The European Patent System - Status of the European Unitary Patent


The regulations creating a European Patent with Unitary Effect (Unitary Patent) were approved by the Council of the European Union on December 17, 2012. The goal is to provide uniform protection in all participating countries. Within this scheme, court decisions regarding infringement or validity will be applicable across the entire territory of the patent.

The Unitary Patent will be optional and will offer a further choice for businesses seeking protection in more than one European country. The current system of patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and validated in individual member states will remain available, though these European bundle patents may be subject to the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) instead of the national courts of each member state. Applicants will also be able to continue to obtain national patents from the patent offices of each participating country.

The UPC agreement needs to be ratified by 13 member states, including the UK, France and Germany. So far, Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Malta, Portugal, Luxembourg, Denmark and Finland have ratified the agreement. It is not expected that the Unitary Patent will come into force before 2017.