On 16 April 2013 the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed complaints by Spain and Italy against the proposal of the other 25 EU countries to create a Unitary Patent System and a Unified Patent Court Agreement.

The Unified Patent Court Agreement was signed in February 2013, which could result in the European Unitary Patents being granted as early as 2014, provided the Agreement is ratified by at least 13 EU states, including France, Germany and UK.

European Unitary Patents

  • Briefly, a European Patent with Unitary Effect is a single European patent granted by the European Patent Office that will cover nearly all countries of the European Union.
  • Spain and Italy have opted out of the new system, but may join later.
  • The European Unitary Patent does not replace the current European Patent  system. It will operate alongside the current system, and national patents will still be available as an alternative.
  • The cost of obtaining and maintaining European Unitary Patent is likely to be similar to the cost for a European patent validated in about 4-5 countries, and significantly less than the costs for all 25 European countries that are likely to be part of the new system.
  • European Unitary Patents, and ultimately European Patents, will be litigated exclusively in the new Unified Patents Court. Litigation is likely to be quite uncertain for several years and may lead to forum shopping.

Is the European Unitary Patent suitable for your business?

More details about the new system and who is likely to benefit from the new system are discussed in our related blog article Are European Unitary Patents part of your IP Strategy?