The Future of Patent protection in Europe (… as of end 2022)
With providing and acknowledging the legal framework for the Unitary Patent System, i.e. the EU regulations creating a European patent with unitary effect, the so-called Unitary Patent and the agreement establishing the Unified Patent Court, UPC, which will have jurisdiction over Unitary Patents and „classic“ European patents, an additional route for patent protection has been opened.
Possible coverage via EPC:
Coverage via UPC:
Applicants will then have the choice between National patents, European patents and Unitary patents, the latter two having common examination and grant procedures at the European Patent Office, EPO; after grant a European patent can either be validated resulting in national parts of the patent and/or registration as a Unitary Patent can be requested (if certain requirements are met).
Comparison of present and future patent coverage available in Europe:
„The UPC will be a common court of the participating member states with jurisdiction for infringement and revocation actions concerning patents granted by the EPO. This specialised court will make the Europe-wide enforcement of patents easier, offer greater legal certainty and reduce costs resulting from litigation in multiple jurisdictions.“
However, even in view of this enthusiastic official statement, it is clear that the Unitary Patent may not be the best choice for all applicants / inventions.
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Comparison of present and future IP strategies available in Europe:
UP/EP or NP
The Unitary Patent package is not a substitute for national patents nor for the classical European patent, but an additional option for protecting of technical innovations in Europe and should be considered in your IP management strategy.
As some of the effects of the Unitary Patent package become effective automatically, i.e., when no action is taken by the applicant, you should review your current portfolio and take the necessary steps.