On June 1, 2023, the Unitary Patent came into force – after decades of political “haggling”, in which language issues formed the main obstacle. The Unitary Patent is a patent that offers protection “in one go” for 17 countries of the European Union (EU). In other words, one patent for a large number of countries.
For decades it was mandatory to first obtain a European patent through a central procedure at the European Patent Office (EPO) and then to validate the obtained European patent in one or more contracting states of the European Patent Convention (EPC), thereby obtaining a bundle of national patents.
That has changed since June 1, 2023. At least, there will be an additional option regarding patent protection in Europe.
The Unitary Patent should make it easier for the patent applicant to obtain a patent in “Europe”. Particularly when a patent is desired in a relatively large number of European countries, the Unitary Patent may be more interesting than a bundle of national patents. However, there are also disadvantages associated with a Unitary Patent, which means that you have to check for each patent right whether a Unitary Patent is a suitable option. Your patent attorney will happily advise you on this.
Together with the introduction of the Unitary Patent the so-called “Unified Patent Court” (UPC) has been launched, where disputes regarding Unitary Patents will be settled. The Netherlands has been assigned a so-called “local UPC division” (court). This local UPC division is based in The Hague.
The (technical) judges have already been appointed, their agendas will probably fill up rapidly!
We will keep you informed of our initial experiences with the Unitary Patent in the near future.