The Unitary Patent System, to be launched in June 2023, represents the biggest change to patent protection in Europe since the signing of the EPC in the 1970s. The introduction of the Unitary Patent will be accompanied by the introduction of a new Unified Patent Court – to find out more about the court itself read Part 2 of our guide here.
The Unitary Patent (sometimes referred to as a European patent with unitary effect) potentially offers cost and administrative savings for applicants wishing to obtain patent protection across the participating states. It is designed to be an additional option for innovators, to promote the use of the patent system, particularly among SMEs, and (with the Unified Patent Court) to facilitate enforcement of patents.
However, there are several aspects that limit the Unitary Patent’s appeal, at least in its early stages. These include the limited number of states participating (the UK, Spain and Switzerland, for example, are all outside the system), the risk of granted patents being revoked across all participating states, and the uncertainties that arise from a new, untested system.
The current European Patent system, with national validation (using, where applicable, the London Agreement) will continue to be available, as will national patent systems. These may be preferred options by some applicants, depending on their circumstances. Read more