Unitary patent: Protecting inventions in 26 countries

Unitary patent and unified patent court

Witness history in the making: For several decades, the member states of the European Union (EU) have been negotiating the creation of a European patent with unitary effect ("unitary patent") and a unified European patent court.

In 2012, representatives of the EU member states achieved a breakthrough agreement: The European unitary patent will soon guarantee supranational protection for inventions in 26 countries across Europe. Meanwhile, the agreement to install a European patent court is currently being ratified by EU member states.


Coming soon: The unitary patent takes effect

Proprietors of European patents can apply for a Unitary Patent starting on the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. Find out more details in our focus section.  


Did you know?

  • The EPO is one of the largest European institutions, right after the European Commission and the European Parliament.
  • Together with patent offices in China, Japan, Korea and the US, the EPO is among the world's largest patenting authorities.
  • The staff of more than 7000 employees at the EPO includes over 4000 highly specialised engineers, proficient in the office's three official languages and covering all technical fields.
  • Every year, the EPO processes almost 260 000 patent applications (2012), with almost two-thirds originating from outside of Europe.
  • By filing one single application in one of the EPO's three official languages (German, English, French), inventors can protect their inventions on the European market, covering 38 states with more than 600 million inhabitants.

EPA-Präsident Benoît Battistelli

Video: Interview with EPO President Benoît Battistelli on the unitary patent

Why does the European patenting system need the unitary patent? Which advantages does it offer inventors? And how about the industry? What are the implications for patent litigation across Europe? In our video feature, EPO President Benoît Battistelli reflects on the advantages of the unitary patent.

Patent Translate

Once the unitary patent takes effect, the current requirement for translations into official EU procedural languages will be a thing of the past. But inventors will still be able to obtain patent texts in their own languages: An automated translation tool for patents on the EPO website, Patent Translate, offers free translations between English and 31 other languages.

Unitary patent FAQs

What happens once the unitary patent takes effect? And when will it happen? Find the answers in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section:

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