Unitary Patent in Europe

Since the 70’s there have been various attempts to replace individual European country patents with a unified patent good throughout participating countries. As it currently stands, there is a partially unified process- meaning one application in one language, but that application for patent protection must still be sought in each individual country. By 2012, the European Council and European Parliament had reached agreement on EU regulations that would make a unitary patent possible, but there have been objections among various members of the EU. But this process is underway again.

A European Unitary Patent will need to be created which would be a single right covering all participating EU member states, and a Unified Patent Court that would have jurisdiction over all litigation of those patents in those participating member states.

Germany has recently passed legislation opening the door for them to ratify the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) Agreement, but will not ratify this before the main agreement- the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA is approved. That requires all 13 states approval, and 12 have ratified to date, and the remaining ratification is expected in autumn of this year.

Wikipedia has a map of the status of European countries participating in the UP project.

Patent rights obtained in individual European countries before the UPCA is in force will be restricted to their national borders. They will not automatically become European unitary patents.

Obviously, a unitary patent can be a much more streamlined way of getting broader protection, and the requirement of single renewal fees will be much cheaper for inventors.