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European Patent with Unitary effect (Unitary Patent)

The unitary patent is in force since June 1, 2023. Here you can find everything about the new instrument and how you can use it.

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Feb 29, 2024: UPC publishes a detailed case-located statistics https://www.unified-patent-court.org/en/news/case-load-court-update-29-february-2024

Feb 26, 2024: The UPC court of appeal rendered its first substantive decision.

Feb 22, 2024: EPO announces acceleration of oppisition proceedings in case of parallel court actions. More Information

Jan 26, 2024: A press release from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces the signing of a headquarter agreement for the UPC central chamber in Milano. For Italy it was signed by Nicola Ferola (director general for Europe in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) while the President of the court of appeal Klaus Grabinski signed on behalf of the UPC. The Milano part of the central chamber is supposed to start in June 2024.

Jan 23, 2024: Irish Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney announces that he got permission to draft the bill for a referendum about Ireland joining the UPC. This is an obligation according to the Irish constitution. The referendum will be held from June 6-9, 2024.

Nov 13, 2023: Nearly 80 UPC-cases in the first six months. About 20-25 % of new EP-applications are converted to a Unitary Patent. Up to now the Unitary Patent proves to be successful. See also the EPO dashboard: https://www.epo.org/en/about-us/statistics/statistics-centre#/unitary-patent

In September 2023 the first hearing took place in the Local Chamber in Vienna.

July 31, 2023: So far, four nullity actions and 22 patent infringement actions are pending with the UPC. As expected, the higher number of infringementlawsuits will mainly concern the local chambers of the UPC, including the local chamber in Vienna. It is located in the building of the Labor and Social Court, A-1090 Vienna, Althanstraße 39-45. The presiding judge is Dr. Walter Schober. The language of negotiation is either German or English.

June 26, 2023: The Board of Directors of the UPC unanimously chooses Milan as the third seat of its central division. In about a year, the cases belonging to the IPC patent class A will be heard there. IPC class C is assigned to the central chamber seat in Munich, although the protection certificates belonging to A and C are to be heard at the headquarters in Paris. With this regulation, the competences that were intended for the central chamber seat in London will be redistributed in the future. This had become necessary because of the departure of the UK (Brexit).

June 14, 2023: More than 500,000 opt-out applications have already been received by the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This means that EP bundle patents can be excluded from the jurisdiction of the UPC.

For unitary patents, on the other hand, the UPC is always responsible within the scope of its competencies.

June 1, 2023: The unitary patent system is now in force. The judges take their oath in Paris and Luxembourg (seat of the appellate court).

May 30, 2023: Luxembourg: Inauguration Ceremony of the Unified Patent Court.

May 19, 2023: The amandment to the patent law provides Austrian EP applicants with a safety net: if the request for unity is rejected by the European Patent Office, the possibility of validation in Austria remains. The relevant period of three months only begins when the rejection of the application for uniformity becomes final.

The EU unitary patent is in force and everyone should have easy access to it. For the time being there are 17 member states, but when it is fully developed there could be 24.

The six most important questions about the Unitary patent

    • When can I get a unitary patent?
      Unitary patents will be granted since June 1, 2023. Innovations that were developed yesterday and applied for a patent today could soon become unitary patents. 
    • How much will the unitary patent cost?
      A unitary patent will cost around € 5,600 on average. Instead of one fee for each country in which patent protection is sought, there is only one fee for the unitary patent for all participating states. For comparison: So far, inventors could only protect their invention in four countries for the same price, with the unitary patent in 17.
    • Is the whole EU involved in the unitary patent?
      At the beginning there are 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. The unitary patent applies in these countries. When fully developed, there can be up to 24 member states.
    • Into which languages does the unitary patent have to be translated?
      Like the previous European bundle patent, the unitary patent can be registered in German, English or French. During a transitional period of twelve years, all unitary patents must be translated into English or another official language of the EU. After that, you only register in one official language of the EU and no further translation is necessary. 
    • How to get a unitary patent?
      The unitary must be registered with the European Patent Office and will then be granted by the European Patent Office.
    • What support do companies and researchers who want to register a unitary patent get from the Austrian Patent Office?
      The best way to get protection starts with a professional search ant the Austrian Patent Office. You get a professional assessment of wheter your invention is new and patentable. The Patent Office advises and accompanies SMEs, startups and researchers in order to provide them with a safe path to internationalization.

    More questions?

    read the FAQs now

    The advantages

    The unitary patent is intended to bring advantages to inventors and companies: You can protect your innovations with a single patent in several countries at the same time and save a lot of paper, time and money. 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 involved in translating in the conventional process should not be underestimated. And instead of one fee per country, only one fee is charged for all participating states. The annual fee is comparable to a four-country fee and currently offers protection for 17 countries.

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

    Despite all the advantages and the simple registration, there are some things to consider. If the patent is not granted, for example, the entire procedural fees are lost, just as with the bundle patent. A risk that can be minimized in advance with a professional search by the Austrian Patent Office. Such a research is available for € 258 and will be completed within a few months. Even better: With a national patent or utility model application, you also get this search and at the same time secure the priority date. Applicants should therefore go to the Austrian patent office first 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. But if it is successfully challenged in one of the countries, then it also loses its effect in all countries. Depending on the technical subject matter, the challenge is heard before one of the central chambers in Paris or Munich.

    The infringement of a unitary patent is also heard before local chambers. That can be in Stockholm, Milan or Vienna, to name just three examples. The Court of Appeal (second instance of the UPC) is based in Luxembourg.

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