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How will the Unitary Patent System impact you?

By Grace Mallinson

The Unitary Patent System is the talk of the “IP town” at the moment. This long-awaited system is finally on the verge of coming into effect and will be an exciting new way to gain patent protection in Europe in late 2022.

What is the Unitary Patent System?

Currently to gain patent protection in each member state of the European Patent Convention, you must validate your European patent in the countries of interest by the national validation deadline. By using the Unitary Patent method, you will only need to submit a single request to the European Patent Office (EPO) and you will gain protection for each state that is party to the Unitary Patent System.

What are the benefits?

  • You will only need to pay renewal fees to the EPO, even after grant
  • File one request to EPO for unitary effect, which is free of charge
  • Recordals, such as licenses and transfers can be recorded centrally at the EPO and will be recorded in their new register

How to apply for a Unitary Patent?

The initial stages of the European patent procedure are entirely the same. The changes come into play at the grant stage. According to the EPO, the request for unitary effect “must be filed no later than one month after the date of publication of the mention of the grant in the European Patent Bulletin”. For detailed information on applying, please visit the EPO website here.

Transitional period

The EPO have created two transitional methods to assist users with the introduction of the Unitary Patent System.

1. Early request for unitary effect

Once Germany has deposited their instrument of ratification of the UPCA, users will be able to submit an early request for unitary effect. This option will be available where a Rule 71(3) communication has been issued and means that as soon as the System is introduced, the EPO will immediately register unitary effect for the patent.

2. Request for a delay in issuing the decisions to grant a European patent

It will be possible to request the delay of issuing the decision to grant a European patent, on or before the deadline to respond to Rule 71(3) Communication. The EPO will delay the decision to grant until after the introduction of the Unitary system. This means that European patents that would not have necessarily been eligible to have unitary effect due to being filed too early, still have the opportunity to have unitary effect.

Watch out! You will only have protection in the Member States that had ratified the UPCA at the date of registration of unitary effect, therefore if you immediately file a request, you will not be covered for all 25 member states!

How will Equinox IPMS be adapting to support this change?

We’re currently looking into the best way to handle the Unitary Patent System in our Equinox IPMS platform. We’ll be working closely with our subscribers over the next few months to develop a plan for effectively accommodating the changes so that our subscribers can begin using the Unitary Patent System smoothly.

Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page for more updates!

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