The arrival of the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) on 1 June 2023 represent the biggest changes in European patent law in a generation. Proprietors of European patents and pending European patent applications need to make important decisions about how to handle these changes in view of their effects on granted and pending patent rights.
A unitary patent is a single patent which has effect in several countries which are members of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the European Union (EU).
The Unified Patent Court is a new international court for patent litigation. Litigation of unitary patents takes place solely at the UPC. The UPC also has jurisdiction over national validations of European patents in affected countries unless those patents have been opted out.
Not all of the 39 EPC member states are affected. Initially, the changes take effect in 17 countries including France and Germany. However, the new laws do not apply to the UK, Spain or Switzerland, amongst others.
How do the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court affect my patent portfolio?
There are two separate issues for patent applicants and patentees to consider:
- The unitary patent: this is only relevant for patents which grant after the legislation comes into force.
- The Unified Patent Court: this affects pending applications AND has a retrospective impact upon European patents which have already been granted. Supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) for pharmaceutical inventions are also affected by the law changes.
Find out more
- THE UNITARY PATENT AND THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT: ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO!
- WHAT IS THE UNITARY PATENT?
- WHAT IS THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT?
- THE UNITARY PATENT AND THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT: IMPACT ON PATENTEES
- THE UNITARY PATENT AND THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT: IMPACT ON PATENT APPLICANTS
- OPTING OUT OF THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT (UPC)
- WEBINAR: THE UNITARY PATENT AND THE UNIFIED PATENT COURT: A GUIDE FOR AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES
We welcome queries from our Australian and New Zealand clients regarding the unitary patent and the UPC. We would be happy to discuss what these changes mean for you and assist you with managing your IP portfolio in view of the changes.
This article is intended to provide general advice. Deciding if unitary patent protection is the right choice and whether or not to opt out a European patent or patent application from the UPC are commercial decisions which will depend on the specific circumstances. This information is correct at the date of publication (1 June 2023).