The unitary patent system in the EU

Unified Patent Court

The unitary patent system in the EU

After an extensive anticipation period, the Unitary Patent System became legally effective on June 1, 2023. In order to provide a consistent, focused, and effective framework for European patent litigation, the long-awaited system will henceforth allow for the possibility of the issue of a Unitary Patent (UP), namely a European patent with unitary effect in up to 25 EU member states. In order to create the UPC system, several nations take part in strengthened collaboration with the European Patent Office (EPO).

As of the aforementioned date, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) works in tandem with the UP System to make it easier for European patents, including UPs, to be litigated. The 17 nations—Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden—that have already approved the required Agreements are where the UPC will function.

The EPO’s current patent application procedure can be used to get unitary patents, however, applicants must first secure a European patent before choosing the UP method of protection.

Any of the three official languages of the EPO, namely English, German, or French, may be used to prosecute UP applications. After a European patent has been awarded, the right owner must submit a “request for unitary effect” within one month of the date on which the European Patent Bulletin first mentioned the issuance of the European patent. This is the only way to get a UP.

As a result, there are three choices available to applicants for their patent registration. First of all, applicants have the option to register a UP that includes any or all of the participating UPC member states.

A second choice for UP protection enables applicants to get a UP while also choosing to validate their patents in nations that are not participating jurisdictions or that have not yet ratified the relevant UP System laws.

Alternatively, applicants have the option to “opt-out” of the unitary system, in which case their European patent will be verified in each nation as usual prior to the implementation of the UPC system.

After choosing to opt out, the UPC will not have any control over any European patent application, European patent registration, or European patent-related additional protection certificate. Only applicants who participate in cases that have not yet had a UPC hearing may use this opt-out option.

In contrast to the previous choice of a European patent obtained under the European Patent Convention, which consists of a collection of individual, separate national rights valid in each designated territory respectively, a granted UP constitutes a single, indivisible right that covers all UPC member states collectively. The UP system also enables a consolidated renewal fee and administration system, which might make the process of obtaining and maintaining European patents more effective.




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