The Unitary Patent: Is your business prepared for the biggest change to European patent law in 50 years?

The European Patent Office (EPO) and participating European Union countries are in the final stages of establishing the Unitary Patent (UP) and the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The Unitary Patent represents the biggest change to patent law in Europe for 50 years: it will create a further option in the form of a single approach to patent protection and litigation across multiple European Union countries. Based on current ratifications there will be at least 17 countries covered, and this new system is expected to go live on or after 1 October 2022. If your business has European Patent rights, you need to make sure that you are prepared for the changes this will entail. At this point in time, if you think a UP may be of interest to your business, you may wish to consider delaying grant of any pending European patent application until the UP becomes available.

The Unitary Patent system has a benefit of making it easier and more cost effective to protect and renew a patent granted by the EPO in all the participating countries, enabling the protection of innovation across more countries for less money. Despite these potential benefits it may not be suitable for every business; this will depend on your markets of interest and your need for flexibility in your protection across Europe.

The Unified Patent Court will  allow granted European patents to be enforced or challenged centrally and for a single ruling to be given that applies across multiple EU countries. The UPC will become the default forum for matters relating to European patent rights in the participating EU countries; however there will be an option to opt out of the UPC and this may be of interest to businesses that do not wish their patents to be centrally vulnerable.

It is vital to understand what impact the new UP and UPC system will have on your patents and patent applications if your business is operating in Europe, and how you can factor it in to any existing or new patent strategy you may be developing for your European operations.

Barker Brettell can help you navigate the UP and UPC system effectively, ensuring seamless patent protection for your business in this new landscape. Our patent attorneys are experienced in international patent practice and will be able to support you if you would like to review your existing strategy before the new system is established.

If you would like more detailed information about the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court system and the choices open to your business, please click here or speak to your usual Barker Brettell attorney.