UNITARY PATENT & UNIFIED PATENT COURT
THE CURRENT SYSTEM
- The European Patent Office examines and grants “European patents” which must be validated in individual countries in order to have effect.
- A European patent can currently be validated in 38 contracting states (red), 2 extension states (light grey) and 4 additional validation states (blue)
- The EPO is separate to the EU-all EU states participate in the current European patent system but so do many non-EU states
- Creates a “bundle” of national patents in individual countries.
- No central infringement proceedings
- No central revocation proceedings after EPO opposition period.
- Renewal fees payable in every validated state.
THE UNITARY PATENT SYSTEM
- The Unitary Patent System is a single patent with unitary effect in multiple EU countries
- The Unified Patent Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Unitary Patent and, by default, over all European Patents granted by the EPO, including those that have already been granted.
- Unified Patent Court enables centralized infringement and validity proceedings.
The provisional application phase began in January 2022.
The system is likely to start operating fully in Q4 2022 / Q1 2023
After 3 month “sunrise period” will begin once the preparation during the provisional application phase is complete.
During the sunrise period, many transitional provisions will come into effect, such as optout and early requests for unitary effect.