Unitary Patent

Unitary Patent

Since the European Patent Convention (the EPC) came into force in the late 1970s, the most significant change to the European Patent Law is represented by the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This legislation reform fundamentally alters the way patents are granted and enforced in the European Union.

All businesses operating in Europe for whom the protection and exploitation of intellectual property is an important concern should consider the new Unitary Patent system and prepare a custom-made patent strategy for Europe.

Currently, the EU regulations on the unitary patent system have been accepted by 26 EU member states (except for Croatia and Spain).

The European patent with unitary effect (EPUE), more commonly known as the unitary patent, is defined as a European Patent granted under the provisions of the EPC to which unitary effect for the participating states is given after grant. It is another option for applicants which will co-exist with national patents and classical European patents.

Establishing Unitary Patent protection across Europe makes access to the patent system easier and more cost-effective, facilitating the protection of inventions.

Unitary effect which replaces validation of the European patent offers a single renewal fee, a single object of property, a single court (UPC) and uniform protection - revocation and enforcement proceedings are to be decided in a single action for the unitary patent as a whole.

Request for unitary effect

Request for unitary effect shall be filed within one month from the publication date of the grant in the EP Bulletin. No further translations will be required as a high-quality machine translation will be provided for the informational purposes.

However, for the transitional period (up to 12 years), until machine translation system becomes fully available, English translation of unitary patent granted in German or French or, if in English, translation into another official language of the EU shall be provided together with a request for unitary effect.

Additional cost reimbursement for translating into the EPO language of proceedings will be provided for SMEs, natural persons, non-profit organizations, universities and public research organizations with a residence or place of business in EU member state with official language other than German, English or French.

Renewal Fee

Unitary patent protection offers a single renewal fee for all 26 EU member states. The costs correspond to the sum of the renewal fees currently paid in four countries (Germany, France, UK and the Netherlands). This way the costs for renewing unitary patent for the full term of 20 years constitutes of approximately 20% of the amounts payable under ordinary EP system in the same 26 member states.

Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence in respect of European patents with unitary effect and European patents which have not been opted-out and which cover EU Member States. However, the exclusive competence is a subject to exceptions during the transitional period.

Unitary effect of a European Patent will cover the territories of those participating states that have ratified the UPC Agreement at the date of registration of the unitary effect of the European patent. The UPC Agreement is open to accession by any Member State of the European Union and, up to date, have been signed by 25 EU member states, except for Poland, Croatia and Spain.

A total of 13 member states need to ratify the agreement before it comes into force, including both Germany and the UK (France having already ratified). To see the status of ratification please click here.

More details on the procedures, the conditions of renewals and the associated fees are to be determined. 

Patent Office contact details:

Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1
80469 Munich
Phone: +49 (0)89 2399-0

Unified Patent Court contact details: