The European Patent Office (EPO) recently updated its website and issued public communications reaffirming that the new Unitary Patent system is expected to start at this second half of 2022, alerting patent practitioners and applicants to be prepared for the new unprecedented changes in the way Patents are protected and Litigated in Europe.
The new Unitary Patent (UP) is a European Patent with unitary effect, allowing protection in up to 25 EU Member States, submitting a single request to the EPO and eliminating the current national validation process.
With this new system, also arrives the new Unitary Patent Court (UPC), a single international Court which will allow to deal with the infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and European Patents in all the participating EU countries.
The new model comes with the promise to be more cost effective for users interested in protecting and enforcing its Patent Rights in an increased number of countries, to decrease the discrepancy in decisions (as well as “forum shopping”) and to allow for discussing legal issues in a single Court.
On the other hand, the Unitary system can be more expensive if the Applicant wishes to limit its Patent protection for just a few EU countries. Also, Users should be aware that it is still uncertain how this new Court will perform and its interpretations over sensitive patentary legal issues. Finally, any decision by the court will reflect for all jurisdictions of the patent (which can be a point to consider for companies with an IP intensive operation in multiple countries).
With this in mind, legislators provided for a 7 year transition period and an Opt-out of the unitary process can be requested, should the patent protection strategy privileges maintaining the national system (the current one).
The EPO full page explaining the new system can be found clicking here. For further questions, please contact us.