Searching and retrieving Unitary Patent information

Focus on INPADOC

With the launch of the Unitary Patent (UP) system, more UP-related data is becoming visible and searchable in the EPO's patent information services. This fourth article in the "Searching and retrieving Unitary Patent information" series focuses on INPADOC legal event data. 

With the introduction of the Unitary Patent, the EPO started adding legal event codes and legal events relating to the new unitary procedure to its INPADOC worldwide legal event data. INPADOC covers procedural events related to patent applications, which are available in Espacenet/OPS, PATSTAT and the Global Patent Index.  

INPADOC combines post-grant events from national offices for classic patents with new events related to unitary effect. It publishes and stores the opt-out information from the Unified Patent Court (UPC), as well as the actions and decisions taken by the UPC as published in the weekly European Patent bibliographic data (EBD) file.  

Unitary Patent protection: legal event codes 

The new codes all have three digits that start with the letter "U". These codes cover the entire procedure of the Unitary Patent system from the request for unitary effect and UPC actions and decisions to the lapse of a patent with unitary effect.  

The most frequently used codes are:  

Legal event codes related to the Unitary Patent.

Fig. 1: Legal event codes related to the Unitary Patent. 

  • EP U01 Request for unitary effect filed 
    The filing of a request for unitary effect refers to the date acknowledged as the date of the formal request for unitary effect in writing. In INPADOC the date of the filing of the request is the effective date.  

  • EP U07 Unitary effect registered 
    If the request meets all requirements, the EPO will grant a Unitary Patent, i.e. record unitary effect in the Register for unitary patent protection. The registration of unitary effect also defines territorial scope. In the initial years of the new system, different generations of Unitary Patents with different territorial coverage may emerge. In INPADOC the date of the communication of registration of unitary effect is the effective date.  

  • U20 Renewal fee paid 
    Renewal fees for Unitary Patents, along with any additional fees for their late payment, are to be paid to the EPO. They are due for the the time period following the year in which the mention of the grant of the European patent benefitting from unitary effect is published in the European Patent Bulletin. In INPADOC the date of fee payment is the effective date.  

Here is an example from Espacenet. The member states are listed under "countries". For renewal fee payments, the year of the respective payment is added.  

Legal event codes related to the Unitary Patent shown in EspacenetFig. 2: Legal event codes related to the Unitary Patent shown in Espacenet 

For a complete list of all INPADOC legal event codes, please see the weekly updates of legal event codes available on Filtering by authority "EP" and codes starting with "U" will give you all of the codes related to unitary patent protection.  

Downloading legal event codes in the "Weekly updates" section]Fig. 3: "Weekly updates" section on 

UPC opt-out information  

The Unitary Patent system consists of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The UPC decides on the validity and infringement of Unitary Patents and classic European patents. There is a transitional period of seven years during which a patent owner or applicant can opt out of the UPC's jurisdiction in respect of their granted European patent or application for its entire lifetime unless an action has already been brought before the UPC.  

The opt-out information is published in INPADOC. The codes under authority "EP" have three digits and start with the letter "P". INPADOC stores all the opt-out events from the UPC and is the only comprehensive source for published data on opt-out information. Responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or quality of the data relating to the opt-outs lies entirely with the Unified Patent Court. 

The most frequently used opt-out codes are: 

Legal event codes related to opt-out of the UPC's jurisdictionFig. 4: Legal event codes related to opt-out of the UPC's jurisdiction 


Legal event in Espacenet related to opt-out of the UPC's jurisdictionFig. 5: Legal event in Espacenet related to opt-out of the UPC's jurisdiction 

Keywords: INPADOC, legal event, unitary patent