Requests for Unitary Patents can now be filed
Patentees can adapt their portfolio strategies now to take advantage of the cost-savings provided by the Unitary Patent

Requests for the new Unitary Patent (UP) can be filed from today, 1st January 2023, for pending applications approaching grant. These new UPs are a single patent covering all Member States of the European Union participating in this new system. They will be available with almost no translation costs and will have a single, relatively low, renewal fee. These changes offer the potential for substantial savings, especially where patent protection across most of Europe is desirable, as illustrated by our interactive cost estimator.  

UPs will be granted by the EPO following the existing procedure for European Patents (EPs), with the request for a UP due within a month of grant.  UP requests can be filed from 1st January 2023, but this means the patent will not be granted until the Unitary Patent Court opens its doors (likely on 1st June 2023). Therefore, requests for a UP filed at this stage will include a request for delayed grant under the EPO’s transitional regime.  This means where a granted patent is required urgently, a UP request is unlikely to be the best option. However, many innovators have been looking forward to requesting unitary patents in order to enjoy the associated cost savings. 

Those UPs granted from 1st June 2023 will cover at least 17 states, as shown in our landscape tool here.  As more countries join the relevant agreement the number of states available via the UP increases, so UPs granted in a few years’ time will likely cover 24 European states in a single right. Having said that, any given UP has a fixed geographical scope, that will be recorded on the EPO’s Unitary Patent Register. Those states not covered by the UP will continue to be available from a granted EP via conventional national validation, so when an EP proceeds to grant innovators may choose a UP and add missing states such as Spain and the UK via national validation. 

Patent litigation in relation to a UP, in particular infringement and revocation actions, will be handled by a new court: the Unified Patent Court (UPC). Deciding that a pending patent application should benefit from the wide geographical coverage and cost savings offered by the UP therefore has an impact on the enforcement options.  Our team of UPC litigators would be happy to talk you through the pros and cons of using litigation in this new court.  

At Carpmaels & Ransford, we are unique in our ability to offer a truly integrated service, managing our clients’ intellectual property from inception to commercialisation, enforcement, litigation, and defence, making us perfectly positioned to guide our clients through the upcoming UPC system. Our single team of litigators and patent attorneys can handle any dispute in the EPO, the UPC and the UK Courts in parallel.  Many of our clients have already decided to use UPs and we look forward to using the UPC to defend and enforce those rights. 

Want to know more? Contact our team of experts below.  

You can also find more articles covering the UP and UPC on our website, here.