The unitary EU patent system comprises a European patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court for the participating EU member states.
Body: The unitary EU patent system is based on three legal acts:
- a Regulation creating a European patent with unitary effect (pdf);
- a Regulation establishing a language regime applicable to the unitary patent (pdf);
- an Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (pdf).
It will come into effect once 13 EU member states, which must include Germany, France and the UK, have ratified the Agreement. The first European patents with unitary effect can be applied for from this date onwards.
The European Patent Office (EPO) will examine and grant the unitary patent as a standard European Patent (EP). But after it is granted, patentees can request unitary effect for the territory of the participating EU states. The unitary patent offers uniform protection and equal effect in all 26 participating EU member states (with the exception of Spain and Croatia). This means, for example, that the individual patents may only be limited or revoked for all these countries simultaneously. The EPO will be responsible for administering the unitary patent. The unitary patent is optional and provides another option for users besides the national patents and EP.
The Unified Patent Court will have sole jurisdiction for any disputes arising in relation to EP and unitary patents in the 25 participating EU states (with the exception of Spain, Croatia and Poland). It will comprise a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal. The Court of First Instance will be composed of a central division and several local and regional divisions in the contracting member states.
- You only have to file one application to be granted unitary patent protection in 13 - 26 EU states (unitary patent).
- You save money as you won't have to pay for validation in the individual EU contracting states (e.g. the costs of national recognition procedures and translations).
- The standardised legal system ensures uniform jurisdiction in the contracting EU states and provides legal certainty.
On the basis of a Court of Justice of the EU opinion, Switzerland and all other member states of the European Patent Organisation that are not members of the EU, may not join the European patent jurisdiction. This means that EPs that are valid in Switzerland will continue to be subject to the jurisdiction of the Swiss Federal Patent Court. Holders of an EP or a Swiss patent can therefore refer any disputes to a competent specialised court that is able to make quick decisions and follows attractive procedural rules (e.g. proceedings can be conducted in English).
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