What are the pros and cons of the new Unitary Patent?
UPs will have effect across all participating Member States that have ratified the relevant agreements – see our landscape tool for the full country list and current ratification status. Lapse, revocation, limitation or transfer of a UP will only be possible in respect of all states.
UPs will be available alongside the current EPs that we have today (these EPs take effect as a bundle of national patents as discussed here). Once available, patentees can select a UP only, or an EP only, or a combination of both types of patent (one type per country). A combination of EP and UP will be needed if you choose a UP and also want coverage in countries that are not UP participating Member States (e.g. Spain, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey). It may also be possible to have both an EP and a UP in the same participating state by choosing different routes for parent and divisional applications, subject to double patenting requirements both nationally and at the EPO.
The savings provided by a UP (relative to an EP) will be dependent on which countries you wish to cover. Our estimator tool provides a side-by-side comparison of the costs of the two systems based on your country preferences. If more than five EP countries are required that are participating Member States, then there will likely be a saving via use of the UP. The saving is also affected by the length of the patent, as longer EPs have higher translation costs almost all of which are removed with a UP.
The UPC will have exclusive jurisdiction over all UPs, so choosing a UP means also accepting the UPC. Accordingly, a UP is at risk of being revoked in all countries at any time. Reducing the possibility of pan-European revocation at one sitting is probably the most compelling reason for avoiding the UP and using an EP instead. Further information about whether you want to use the jurisdiction of the UPC appears in our section considering the opt-out decision for already granted EPs.
Assigning a UP is an easier process than assigning the separate national parts of an EP, but there are special issues to consider for the UP as set out in our UP agreements section.