Under the new system, the examination procedure of a European patent application does not change. Rather, when the European patent is granted, the patent proprietor will have the option to select a Unitary Patent (UP), which will cover multiple states. States that have chosen not to participate in the system can still be covered with national validation of a European patent, under the current arrangements. This will result in a Unitary Patent that covers all of the participating states with a single patent and, if selected, a bundle of national patents in non-participating states.
Use of a unitary patent is not obligatory. It will remain possible to cover any desired selection of states by validating the patent nationally in just those states. You can read more about how you can prepare for the new system here.
UPs will fall within the exclusive competence of a new central patent court: the Unified Patent Court. The new court will hear revocation and infringement cases and will have several local and regional divisions and three central divisions; each one in London (to be relocated to an EU country), Munich and Paris. You can read more about the Unified Patent Court here.
When the system starts, it will initially cover Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. With time, it is expected that more counties will join, with the notable exception of Spain, which has decided not to participate in the system. Note that the UPC Agreement covers EU states. Therefore, non-EU member states party to the European Patent Convention (the current system) will not be involved in the project. This list includes the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.
Our colleagues Paul Clarkson and Rolf Suurmond, Aleksandra Zwolinska, Stijn van Dongen and Marta Alvarez Guede follow the recent developments on the Unitary Patent closely. Please contact them for any specific questions on the current status.
Get ready for the Unitary Patent! NLO experts Paul Clarkson and Marta Alvarez will walk you through the current situation and available options for your patents/applications, including the (dis) advantages for each option. This webinar was held on 2 June and 7 July 2022