Based on a granted European patent
The Unitary Patent is based on a European patent granted by the EPO under the rules and procedures of the EPC. After grant of the European patent, unitary effect can be requested for the territory of the EU Member States participating in enhanced co‑operation and having ratified the UPC Agreement. The Unitary Patent does not affect the EPO's day-to-day search, examination and granting procedures. It does not replace the existing routes to patent protection in Europe, but is an additional option alongside national patents and "conventional" European patents.
One-stop-shop at the EPO
To implement the Unitary Patent system, the EPO takes on a number of new tasks. In particular, it examines requests for unitary effect filed by patent proprietors and registers Unitary Patents in a new Register for unitary patent protection if the requirements are fulfilled.
Instead of validating a European patent in several countries, patent proprietors can choose to file a request for unitary effect and obtain – in a single and straightforward procedure carried out centrally by the EPO – a Unitary Patent providing uniform protection in the EU Member States participating in enhanced co‑operation and having ratified the UPC Agreement. There is no fee for filing a request for unitary effect. This significantly reduces administrative complexity and associated validation costs.
The EPO provides a new Register for unitary patent protection that will include information on the legal status of Unitary Patents, e.g. on licensing, transfer, limitation, revocation and lapse. All contractual and proprietary transactions relating to Unitary Patents can be registered centrally at the EPO under a single legal regime, instead of through multiple parallel registrations in national patent registers on a country-by-country basis. The Unitary Patent is subject to a single legal regime, determined by a conflict of laws rule.
One renewal fee
Importantly, annual renewal fees for Unitary Patents are to be paid to the EPO. This is a significant advantage for patent proprietors as they no longer need to pay national renewal fees in different currencies to multiple national patent offices, each applying their national legal requirements in relation to rates, time periods, payment methods and representation.