A Unitary Patent (UP) is in fact simply a traditional European Patent, where the patentee has applied for Unitary Effect within one month after grant. This means that the Unitary Effect applies after grant of a European Patent that is otherwise filed, examined and granted by the traditional route by the European Patent Office.
The Unitary Patent confers patent protection unitarily across the group of member states participating in the UP/UPC system at the time the unitary effect is registered. This means that the patent stands or falls together for that group of member states, with respect to validity, infringement and annuity fees. It is not possible to include or exclude countries from this group with respect to a specific European Patent. For achieving protection in the additional countries, traditional validation can be used for non-participating EU countries, as well as for EPO contracting states outside the EU. Instead of a Unitary Patent, traditional validation can be used for individual UP/UPC-participating countries when the unitary effect of the UP/UPC system is not desired.
Only the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has jurisdiction over validity and infringement of Unitary Patents (UP). All questions in such regard must therefore be taken to the UPC, and cannot be dealt with by the national courts. This also means that the opt-out option (see section about the UPC) is not applicable to Unitary Patents, but only to national validations.
The UP offers a cost-efficient way to confer, manage and maintain rights of a European Patent to a large geographical region by registration and payment of annuity fee to a single authority on behalf of the group of UP/UPC participating countries, instead of individually in each desired country. This significantly reduces costs, administrative procedures and management compared to maintaining multiple national patents. It further reduces both cost and administration in registering sale and acquisition of patents or companies, licensing, contracts and management of all other tasks where lists of patents or contact with patent registers are involved.
Allowing only a single court, the UPC, to handle validity and infringement of Unitary Patents provides for consistency in decisions and proceedings to increase certainty and predictability within the group of UP/UPC-participating countries, contrary to the situation with individually validated patents.
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Partner, European Patent and Design Attorney
B.Sc. in electrical engineering specialized in software, data technology and data communication