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Unitary Patent

The unitary patent is coming. Everything about the new instrument and how you can use it.

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The EU unitary patent is coming in the second half of 2022 and everyone should have easy access to it. The unitary patent will come next year for 17 member states. When fully developed, it can then become 24.

The six most important questions about the Unitary patent

    • From when can I get a unitary patent?
      Unitary patents are expected to be granted from the end of 2022. So innovations developed yesterday and filed for patent today could soon become unitary patents.
    • How much will the unitary patent cost?
      On average, a unitary patent will cost around €5,600. Instead of a fee for each country in which patent protection is sought, the unitary patent will have a single fee for all participating states. By comparison, inventors were previously able to protect their inventions in only four countries at the same price, but with the unitary patent in 17.
    • Is the entire EU participating in the unitary patent?
      Initially, 17 countries will be involved: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. The unit patent applies in these countries. In full expansion it can become up to 24 member states.
    • Into which languages must the unitary patent be translated?
      The unitary patent can be applied for in German, English or French, just like the previous European bundle patent. During a transitional period of seven years, all unitary patents must be translated into English or into another official language of the EU. After that, one only files in one official language of the EU and no further translation is required.
    • How does one obtain a unitary patent?
      The unitary patent must be applied for at the European Patent Office and will then be granted by it.
    • What support do companies and researchers who want to apply for a unitary patent get from the Austrian Patent Office?
      The Austrian Patent Office will provide support in deciding on the new path to patent protection in Europe with an information offensive starting in spring 2022 and, of course, the same applies to the new unitary patent: the best path to protection begins with a professional search at the Austrian Patent Office. You will receive a professional assessment of whether your invention is new and patentable. The Patent Office advises and accompanies SMEs, startups and researchers to provide them with a secure path to internationalization.

    The advantages

    The unitary patent should bring advantages to inventors and companies: Firstly, one protects one's innovations with a single patent in several countries at the same time and saves a lot of paper, time and costs. Above all, the otherwise very time-consuming translation into the national languages is no longer necessary. - The unitary patent can be applied for in German, English or French. - The effort for the translations is not to be underestimated in the conventional procedure. And instead of one fee per country, only one fee is charged for all participating countries.

    Notice! The unitary patent is not a walk in the park.

    Despite all the advantages and the simple application, there are some things to consider. For example, if the patent is not granted, the entire procedural fees are lost, just as with the bundle patent. A risk that can be minimized in advance with a professional search from the Austrian Patent Office. Such a search is available for € 258 and is completed within a few months. Even better: With a national patent or utility model application, one also receives this search and at the same time secures the priority date. Applicants should therefore continue to go first to the Austrian Patent Office and only then apply for the unitary patent.

    The new granting procedure works according to the principle "One for all, all for one". If the patent is granted, it is valid in all participating countries. However, if it is successfully challenged in one of the countries, then it also loses its effect in all countries. The challenge is heard before one of the central chambers in Paris or Munich, depending on the technical subject matter (the third planned seat in London will be cancelled following the UK's withdrawal).

    Infringement of a unitary patent is also heard before local chambers. This can be in Stockholm, Milan or Vienna, to name just three examples. Appeals against the decision of a local chamber can in turn be made to one of the central chambers.

    Milestones

    The Unitary Patent will enter into force as soon as Germany also not only ratifies the associated Agreement on the Unitary Patent Court but also formally deposits the instrument in Brussels.

    Germany has already completed the parliamentary process and could - theoretically - bring the Unitary Patent/Single Patent Court into force at any time by depositing the instrument.

    However, Germany will wait until all legal and practical issues have been resolved (e.g., selection and recruitment of judges).

    The preparatory phase is expected to last 8 to 12 months.

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