What is the Unitary Patent and how do I get one?

The Unitary Patent (UP) will be a single patent right, obtained via the European Patent Office, covering all EU Member States which have ratified the agreement at the patent grant date, and it will be subject to the UPC (opt-out is not possible).

Even if other countries join the system after the grant of the patent, they will not be added to the UP.

How do I obtain a Unitary Patent?

The request to convert the European patent into one having unitary effect, instead of a bundle of national rights in the participating countries, is made by the proprietor on grant of the patent to the European Patent Office (EPO).

It is now possible to request a Unitary Patent for EP patents which will grant after 1 June 2023; your EIP contact can assist with this.

Does this replace the existing validation procedures?

The existing validation procedures will continue to be available in order to obtain protection in those countries which have not ratified the agreement at the grant date (including those which may later ratify the agreement).

Additionally, because the Unitary Patent is not compulsory, the existing validation procedures will continue to be available in order to obtain individual national patents even for Member States which participate in the Unitary Patent system.

Why should I obtain a Unitary Patent?

The UP will offer protection in many countries for a lower total cost than if the current bundle system were used to obtain protection in the same set of countries. Further, a single enforcement action, effective in many countries, should make litigation cheaper too.

What else is important about Unitary Patents?

A UP will be a single indivisible patent, rather than a bundle of national patents. It will have the same claims for all participating Member States and must be valid in all states. This could mean that prior art that is only relevant in one state would invalidate the Unitary Patent.

The UP is vulnerable to a single revocation action across member states. This might be initiated by someone resident in a country where the UP has effect, who otherwise might not have taken any interest if you did not validate in that country.

A UP may only be limited, transferred or revoked, or lapse in respect of all the participating Member States. There is a single renewal fee - it is not possible to selectively drop countries to reduce renewal fee costs. However, a UP may be licensed in respect of the whole or part of the territories of the participating Member States.