The Unitary Patent will be 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 26 participating Member States. The Unitary Patent will not affect the EPO's day-to-day search, examination and granting procedures. It will not replace the existing routes to patent protection in Europe, but will be an additional option alongside national patents and "classic" European patents.
To implement the Unitary Patent system, the EPO is taking on a number of new tasks. In particular, it will examine requests for unitary effect filed by patent proprietors and register Unitary Patents 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 up to 26 participating Member States. There will be no fee for filing a request for unitary effect. This will significantly reduce today's administrative complexity and associated validation costs.
The EPO will provide a new Register for Unitary Patent Protection that will include legal status information relating to Unitary Patents, e.g. on licensing, transfer, limitation, revocation and lapse. Transfers and licences 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.
Importantly, annual renewal fees for Unitary Patents will be paid to the EPO. This will be highly beneficial for patent proprietors as they will no longer need to pay national renewal fees in different currencies to multiple patent offices applying different legal requirements - in particular concerning rates, time periods, payment methods and representation.