Understanding the Unitary Patent
Key Features and Advantages
One of the most significant advantages of the Unitary Patent is its broad geographical scope. Once granted, the patent provides protection across all 17 participating EU member states, which means a more extensive market reach for innovators and investors. National validation system will remain the only solution for non-EU countries and for non-participating EU states.
The Unitary Patent is anticipated to reduce the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining patent protection across EU countries. By eliminating the need for multiple validations and translations, innovators can save both time and resources, allocating both towards further innovation.
The Unitary Patent will be subject to a single set of rules and regulations, providing a higher degree of legal certainty. This consistency will contribute to more predictable outcomes in patent disputes and litigation in the future.
The application process for a Unitary Patent involves submitting a single application in one language, accompanied by a translation into English if the patent is granted in French or German; or into any other official language of the EU if the patent is granted in English. This simplicity is in stark contrast to the national validation system, which is characterized by different filing requirements depending on the countries of interest.
Inextricably linked with the Unitary Patent system is the inception of the Unified Patent Court, a specialized court that will have jurisdiction over patent litigation. This centralized court aims to bring coherence to patent disputes and provide consistent legal decisions. The unified patent court is competent for any dispute related to unitary patents. It is also by default competent for those related to national validations of European patents, unless the competence of the Court is opted-out.
Challenges and Considerations
While the Unitary Patent presents numerous benefits, it also introduces certain challenges and considerations:
Patent holders who decided for national validation have the option to opt-out of the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court and rely on national courts instead. Careful strategic decisions will be necessary to navigate this choice effectively.
The Unitary Patent system and the Unified Patent Court represent a significant departure from the existing patent landscape. Consequently, uncertainties and potential initial issues might arise during the initial implementation phase.
Should a unitary patent be invalidated in court, the protection would immediately fall in all member states, whereas the patent should be attacked separately in all jurisdictions where the patent would be validated through the usual route. The strength of the patent shall therefore be taken into account when making strategic decisions about validations.