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A new European Patent System

A new European Patent System

A new European Patent System

For some time, a new European Patent System is being developed that should offer a simple alternative to the current validation process while simplifying the judicial process regarding patents within Europe. The two elements, the European patent with unitary effect and the patent court, are often referred to as Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) respectively. This page contains information on what exactly the UP and the UPC will entail, and on the effect of the new system on everyday practice. At present, it is not clear yet when the new system will take effect; up-to-date information on this point can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Unitary Patent (UP)

The UP is an alternative to the existing validation process of a European patent in individual countries. It is therefore not a ‘new’ patent, but an option to extend the validity of a European patent granted across all participating countries* in a single stroke. The process of applying for and granting European patents will remain as it is.

What will the UP mean for you?

As soon as the new patent system takes effect, you can opt for registration as a UP instead of registration in individual countries when validating a European patent. In this way, the patent will be immediately valid in all participating countries, and the whole validation process will be greatly simplified.

  1. Only one translation will be required, rather than separate translations for individual countries.
  2. The European Patent Office will annually charge one amount for the maintenance of the UP in the participating countries, meaning that no more annual fees will be owed in individual countries.
  3. As the unitary patent automatically falls under the UPC, the judicial process will be centralised. No opt-out request can therefore be submitted in regard to a unitary patent.

If you sell your UP, this will apply to all participating countries. It is therefore not possible to sell a UP on a per-country basis. However, licences can be granted per country or region.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC)

At present, court cases about infringement and validity are heard by the national courts of the country concerned. The introduction of the UPC will centralise the judicial process for all participating countries. This goes for all new and existing European patents applicable in one or more of the participating countries.

What will the UPC mean for patent holders?

Under the UPC, it will be easier to maintain a European patent, because this can be achieved in all participating countries through one court case. A judgment will have direct consequences for the patent positions in all participating countries. Depending on your situation, this may be advantageous or detrimental in comparison with the current system.

You can opt for (continued) applicability of the current system to your European patent(s). In that case, you must submit what is known as an opt-out request for your current European patent(s), so that nothing will change and court cases will be handled by the national courts.

Independent action by exclusive licence holders

The introduction of the UPC will entail a change for exclusively licensed patents, in that the holder of an exclusive licence will be able to act independently against infringers before the UPC. Since this will apply to all existing European patents, it may also affect your current licence agreements. For this reason, you may wish to adjust your licence agreement or submit an opt-out request.

* Participating countries

Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Czechia
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
The Netherlands
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Sweden
United Kingdom

 

Also see these experts

Martin Klok

Martin Klok

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  • Senior Associate
Jasper Groot Koerkamp

Jasper Groot Koerkamp

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News

United Kingdom approves Unified Patent Court

The UK has given its final approval of the new Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the new Unitary Patent on 26 April 2018.Continue reading

German Law

Germany puts ratification UPC on hold

In June, Germany decided to postpone ratification of the Unitary patent, due to possible constitutional objections.We will inform you well in time as soon as the earliest possible introduction date is known.Continue reading

Brexit

Brexit delays unitary patent

This spring Europe was surprised by Brexit. By now it has become clear that there will also be quite a few consequences for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court. Patent Attorney Peter de Lange from V.O.: “We were supposed to start with this next year. But I can’t say if it’s even going ahead at […]Continue reading

Events

European Patent Seminar

Hotel Excelsior München, Schützenstraße, Munich, Germany

Know the latest ins-and-outs concerning examination, opposition and appeal proceedings before the EPO. Be updated on the unitary patent and the unified patent court. Continue reading