The EU Unitary Patent: New Patent Application in 2016?

von Dr. Meyer-Dulheuer & Partners LLP

The implementation of a European unitary patent, in contrast to the already existing EP patent, has been a much discussed topic for years. In 2011, 25 member states of the EU declared that the unitary patent should be introduced (Spain and Italy haven’t joined). But since then, the final implementation is prevented by some obstacles. Actually, the unitary patent involves some huge benefits – Applicants can apply for this patent with one single application in several European countries. Similarly, they can later enforce the unitary patent with only one procedure. So, which obstacles have already been overcome and which ones are still left? We’ll discuss this in today’s blog article.

How Does the Unitary Patent Differ from the EP Patent?

But first, let’s define the new unitary patent in contrast to the already existing EP patent. It’s important to outline the crucial aspects, because, even if both terms look so similarly, there are massive differences.

  • The unitary patent is a method to standardize and unify patent applications in Europe. It shall come into effect from 2016. The method of applying for an EP patent will be in effect further on.
  • The application for an EP patent is filed at the EPO (European Patent Office), a European institution, who’ll also check your application and, at best, grant your patent. But only after the EP patent has been validated by every included member of the European Patent Convention, it will come into effect in every particular state. The EP patent then counts like a national patent.
  • Like the EP patent, the unitary patent will also be filed with the EPO. But in contrast, it won’t have to be validated in every included state. After the EPO has granted your patent and you’ve paid all required fees, you’ll possess a patent which is valid in all of Europe.
  • The fees for the application shall be cheaper with the unitary patent than with the current EP patent ...
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