After years of planning and several delays, the European patent with unitary effect, or the “Unitary Patent”, as it will be known, and the Unified Patent Court has come into force today.
Since its inception, the European Patent Office has examined and granted European patents centrally at their offices in Munich, The Hague and Berlin. However, upon grant of the European patent, the patent owner must select which of the contracting states of the European Patent Organization they wish their patent to be “validated” in. This will essentially result in a bundle of separate, distinct, national patents.
With the exception of the central opposition procedure, available for up to 9 months after grant of the European patent, any post-grant matters that arise in relation to “classical” European patents must be dealt with in each individual state where an issue arises. For example, if a patent owner believes there is an infringement of their patent in one or more countries where they have protection, they would need to take action individually in each of those countries.
How have we supported the development
The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) have been developed to provide a single unitary right and a central court to bring any post-grant actions. Equally, however, this does provide a single, central point where 3rd parties may apply to revoke or otherwise challenge a patent’s status across a large number of countries.
The UP is a new right – additional to the options currently available on grant of a European patent – which may be requested upon grant of the European patent and will result in a single unitary right covering all those Member States which are signed up to the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) at the time of grant of the patent.
UP protection is currently possible in 17 EU Member States, with more set to follow.
UK patent attorneys registered with the EPO will retain their rights to act at the UPC.
If you have any queries on how the UPC affects your IP portfolio or have any questions on filing strategies with the UPC and the rest of Europe, please do not hesitate to contact one of our advisers, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0113 2433824.