The Unitary patent (sometimes referred to as “EU patent”) is a new intellectual property right that is officially expected to become operational on 1 June 2023.
The Unitary patent, once fully operational, will confer upon a European patent a unitary effect with validity in most of the member states of the European Union (namely, all member states of the EU except Croatia, Poland and Spain).
The Unitary patent is to fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of a single centralised court, the Unified Patent Court, unless patent owners take action to “opt out” of the court’s jurisdiction.
In order to obtain a Unitary patent it will be necessary to follow, from the filing stage up to the grant stage, the normal procedure for obtaining a European patent, but with no need to designate the states in which patent protection is sought: a Unitary patent will, in fact, be valid in all the above-mentioned member states.
It will be possible to request unitary effect for the European patent within one month from its grant.
A Unitary patent will have effect in the member states of the Enhanced cooperation on the Unitary patent that have also ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. Currently, such countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
Disputes concerning a Unitary patent will fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court, a centralised court with main divisions in Munich and Paris and local divisions in several other participating states. The Italian local division of the Unified Patent Court is to be in Milan.
During a 7-year period after the Unified Patent Court begins operations, owners of European patents or European patent applications may file a request to opt out of the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court, provided no proceedings are pending before the court in relation to the relevant patent.
After grant, an annual fee will be required for maintenance, to be paid in advance to the European Patent Office.
Licensing and assignment
Licensing and assignment of a Unitary patent is allowed for all member states of the Enhanced cooperation on the Unitary patent; licensing limited to individual states or regions is also possible. Unitary patents will also be the object of rights of security.
Applicable International Agreements
The Paris Convention, the European Patent Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Budapest Treaty and the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.
Questions on the Unitary patent and on patent protection in Europe? Contact us, we’ll be happy to help.
Information – Unified Patent Court hub