Select Committee approves Unitary Patent budget

Online meeting of the Select Committee welcomed progress made in implementing the Unitary Patent and agreed the budget.

The Select Committee of the Administrative Council of the EPO met online on 18 October 2023. This was the committee’s first meeting since the successful entry into operation of the Unitary Patent system on 1 June 2023. Taking stock of the uptake of the new system by users the Select Committee noted the high demand for Unitary Patents from Europe, the US and Asia, with some 12 000 requests received and more than 11 400 registrations for unitary effect. Five of the top 10 requesters for unitary effect come from Europe, led by Siemens AG, and represent a broad variety of technology sectors, including digital communication and transport. Furthermore, many requests come from SMEs, universities and public research organisations, showing how important Unitary Patents are becoming for innovation in Europe.

The Select Committee discussed the draft Unitary Patent budget including the budgeted income and costs of the Unitary Patent for 2024 and 2025, as well as the forecast for this year. This budget assumes that the annual uptake rate will reach 17% in 2023, rising to 20% in 2024 and 25% in 2025. The uptake rate, which measures the number of requests for unitary effect in relation to all granted European patents in the current year, currently stands above 15% with a favourable upward trajectory. The Select Committee gave a unanimous positive opinion on the 2024-2025 budget.  They expressed their enthusiastic appreciation for the successful preparations and launch of the system and extended their heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated EPO staff for their commitment and efforts in ensuring the seamless start and operational implementation.

The Select Committee discussed the budget implementation statement for the first 3 months of the Unitary Patent system. The new system started 3 months later than foreseen (June not March 2023), leading to a delayed start for the collection of renewal fees and the 2023 revenue therefore will be lower than initially anticipated. However, the demand for Unitary Patents has been stronger than projected and the steadily rising future uptake rates have been anticipated in the budget, leading to better forecasted financial results in 2024 and 2025. Unitary Patent renewal fees are collected by the EPO, whereas renewal fees for nationally validated European patents are collected by the respective national patent offices.

The Select Committee also welcomed the transparency afforded by the publicly available Unitary Patent dashboard with decisive key data, as well as the publication on national measures in participating states relating to the Unitary Patent which provides important insights for users.