On June 1, 2023, the Unitary Patent Court and a new type of patent, the Unitary Patent, will enter into force in Europe.
The Unitary patent court and unitary patent of the European Union will be valid in 17 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden) and possibly in 3 additional countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia).
The Unitary patent is a unified patent that will be valid in all the 17 European countries listed above, and it`s registration will be much simpler than for the traditional European patents. Thus, at a certain stage of the traditional European application prosecution, the applicant must select the European countries in which he/she wants to enter with his/her patent, and later provide a translation of the materials of the European application into the relevant national languages, use the services of local patent attorneys only, pay fees to the patent offices of each country of interest separately, etc.
The Unitary patent of the European Union will automatically extend to the territory of all 17 participating countries. At the same time, there will be no need to use the services of local patent attorneys and pay annual fees for maintaining validity in each country separately. In addition, the application can be filed in one of the three official languages of the European Patent Office – English, French or German – so the translation will only need to be made into the remaining 2 of these 3 languages.
To register Unitary patent, you need to submit only one patent application, pay all relevant fees only to the European Patent Office, including annual maintenance fees. In addition, it is reported that the amount of the official fees will be lower.
The transition to the new system will take 7 years with a possible extension for another 7 years (14 years in total). During the transition period, applicants have the opportunity to obtain both traditional European patents and Unitary patents. At the same time, any disputes regarding traditional patents will be considered in the national courts of each country separately, while the disputes regarding the Unitary patent – in the Unitary Patent Court.
Each applicant has the opportunity to withdraw their submitted European applications and granted European patents from the new system by submitting a corresponding Opt-out application during the time period from the beginning of March 2023 to the end of May 2023 or during the entire transition period (7 years). If you later change your mind and want to transfer your applications and patents to the system of the Unified Patent Court, you can withdraw this submitted Opt-out application, but only once! If you do not submit Opt-out application and receive unified patents, then there will be no possibility to remove them from the system of the Unified Patent Court in the future.
Who will benefit from the new system of the Unitary Patent Court? Applicants who are interested in using a European patent in many European countries (more than 4 countries).
Who will not benefit from the new system of the Unitary Patent Court? Applicants who are interested in using a European patent in a small number of European countries (up to 4 countries).
What is the main advantage of the Unitary patent? Simplified registration procedure and significant savings in registering a patent and maintaining its validity. In addition, monitoring of the payment of annual fees is easier with less risk of missing payment deadlines. Also, in case of legal proceedings, the applicant has the opportunity to centrally protect the Unitary patent in a single court – the Unitary Patent Court, and not in the courts of each individual country, with significant cost savings.
What is the main danger of a single patent? It can be revoked or invalidated centrally and simultaneously in all 17 participating countries by filing a lawsuit to the Unified Patent Court. Additionally, there is a high probability of prosecution errors, since the system is new and has not yet been time-proved.
So, dear applicants, analyze your plans and portfolio, and we will be happy to help you register both traditional patents and unitary patents.