A new European Unitary Patent (UP) system is expected to come into effect in the second half of 2022, making it possible to get patent protection in up to 25 EU Member States with one single application.
Under the current system, once granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), European patents must be validated, maintained, enforced or revoked in each member state individually. Requirements usually vary between countries, which makes the process complicated and costly.
The UP seems to have several important benefits:
- A simplified prosecution, with no extra requirements (such as translations) and fees.
- One renewal system and all the administration post grant handled centrally through the EPO.
- A Unitary Patent Court (UPC) dealing with infringement and validity of UP patents and European patents, and having jurisdiction over all signing member states (see here for the list).
- Harmonization of substantive law, which should make patent prosecution in Europe much easier to navigate and hopefully prevent inconsistent decisions.
- A transitional period of seven years with the option of opting out of the UPC jurisdiction for classic European patents, in favor of litigation before national courts.
At Fish IP Law, we remember countless occasions in which the current system has caused delays, expenses and, put quite frankly, headaches. For example, recording the transfer of a granted patent requires recordation in each member state in which the registration was validated. Thus, a simple recordation can involve communicating with several foreign associates, preparing and executing different forms and documents and spending a considerate amount of money.
The expectations for the new simplified UP system are high and we hope they will be met with a positive result.