A new patent system for Europe – is your business prepared?

A new patent litigation system in Europe - the Unified Patent Court (‘UPC’) – is due to come into full force in June 2023, and with it a new pan-European patent right - the European patent with unitary effect (Unitary Patent). 

The Unitary Patent

The unitary patent will provide patent protection for all participating states, with a single patent registration request to the EPO, without the need for national validation. This will make the procedure much simpler and more cost effective for applicants.

Following the ratification by Germany on 17th February 2023, the Unified Patent Court is set to come into force on 1st June 2023.

The unitary patent will be an alternative to national patents, granted by national IP organisations, and traditional European patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO). It gives businesses new choices as to how and where best to protect their inventions.

However, the Unitary Patent doesn’t mean one patent covering the whole of Europe. It means that through one application the applicant can choose to obtain patent protection in each of the member states.

The Unified Patent Court

The UPC is the new European court, set up by participating EU Member States, that will deal with infringement disputes and validity of unitary patents and traditional European patents. It will reduce costly and time-consuming litigation in multiple countries and should enhance legal certainty through co-ordination of case law. Overall, this should result in simpler and more time and cost-efficient judicial procedures.

The UPC structure:

  • Court of First Instance (a central division and local and regional divisions)
  • Court of Appeal (in Luxembourg)
  • Registry

Transitional period

Transitional measures came into force earlier this year and the 3-month sunrise period, the period when owners of classic European Patents can opt out of the UPC jurisdiction, started on 1st March. 

The UKs position?

In early 2020 the UK government confirmed it would not be participating in the UP and UPC. Therefore, unitary patents will not cover the UK but UK businesses are still able to use the UPC and UP to protect their inventions within the member states.

Are you prepared?

This is a time of huge change and the opening up of different options in the world of patent applications and the resulting implications for infringement disputes. As a business aiming to protect your inventions in the most cost-effective and protective way there are many considerations. Are you fully prepared to make the best choices to protect your inventions and your business interests?

Our course on Understanding the European Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court is running throughout the year, with dates scheduled in July, September and November 2023, and March 2024. 

Book your place to get fully up to date with the implications for your business and ask questions to the expert trainer, Olivier Corticchiato, former European Patent Attorney and Head of Centre of Competence - Patent Oppositions, Nestlé.


Published on May 04, 2023 by Gareth Cartman