The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) are due to come into entry in the near future and aim to bring a single patent right and single patent litigation forum to Europe.
The Unitary Patent Package (UPP) sets up two new patent systems in Europe:
There have been a number of delays to the start of the new systems. However, the expected entry into force date of the UP and UPC is mid-2018. European countries that have ratified the UPC Agreement will become “Contracting Member States” of the UP and UPC. For an updated list of Contracting Member States, please see our information sheets on the UP or the UPC .
At the time of grant, an applicant for a European patent will be able to request a UP. This will provide a single patent right for the Contracting Member States effective at the time the patent is granted. Other EPC countries can be covered by a normal validation of the European patent in those countries.
The UPC provides a single court for patent litigation across a number of European countries (the Contracting Member States). The UPC therefore allows one patent litigation action to have effect in several jurisdictions instead of conducting litigation in several national courts at the same time.
Existing granted European patents will automatically fall under the jurisdiction of the UPC when it comes into force, unless the patent proprietor “opts out”.
Therefore, all proprietors have a choice of two options for each European patent:
1.Do nothing (thus automatically under the jurisdiction of the UPC, herein “auto-in”); or
2.Opt out of the UPC.
More information can be found on our information pages or the news items below.
The EPO have also published a useful guide to the Unitary Patent that can be found here.