The New European Patent System

The basis of the new European patent system are

  • the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) as an international treaty and from EU regulations
  • a European patent with unitary effect ("unitary patent").

With the Unified Patent Court, a civil court with decision-making competence for all participating member states is created for the first time at European level.

For contracting states of the European Patent Convention (EPC) that do not participate in the EPC, i.e. for the non-EU states Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Iceland, as well as for the United Kingdom and for the EU states Spain, Croatia and Poland, the conventional European patent, the bundle patent, still applies.

The territorial jurisdiction of the European Patent Court applies to all member states participating in the UPCA in the case of unitary patents and to all member states participating in the UPCA in which the European patent is in force in the case of conventional European patents.

The unitary patent is a special form of a European patent. Therefore, the same regulations based on the EPC (the European Patent Convention) apply to the unitary patent and the conventional European patent in the grant procedure and the opposition procedure

Note: Unitary patents can be requested for those European patents granted after the EPC comes into force. As things stand, the European Patent Court will go "live" on 1 June 2023.

In order to obtain a unitary patent, within one month after the grant of the patent, the following must be done

  • filing of a written request with the European Patent Office and
  • for a transitional period of at least six years, attaching a translation of the patent (for instance a translation into English if the official language before the European Patent Office was German).

Outside the territory of protection of the unitary patent, a granted European patent can be validated as a bundle patent as usual, for example, as mentioned above, in the non-EU states belonging to the European Patent Convention and also in those states which have not or not yet signed and/or ratified the UPC.

The unitary legal effect only takes effect in all member states participating in the UPCA at the time of registration of the unitary patent; a subsequent extension to states which may ratify the UPCA is not provided for.

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