The European patent system is going through one of its biggest changes since the introduction of a European patent in the 1970s. The Unitary Patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) fully entered into force in June 2023.

As European Patent Attorneys, the GJE team can help you leverage the new rights offered by a Unitary Patent and navigate issues before the UPC.

Another Patent Court, Same Attorneys

The existing regional patent system in Europe is the European patent, granted under the European Patent Convention (EPC). Each European patent is a bundle of national patents that is granted following a central application procedure at the European Patent Office (EPO). Currently, on grant of the application by the EPO, it is necessary to validate a patent separately in all of the member states of the EPC in which protection is wanted. This system is still available alongside the Unitary Patent.

The new Unitary Patent operates in parallel with existing European patents and will share the same application process as the existing European patents at the EPO. However, in contrast to the traditional validation process Unitary Patents cover all participating EU member states (currently 17). Applicants are able to request the creation of a Unitary Patent within one month of a European patent being granted. Therefore, applicants will be able to choose to have a Unitary Patent in the participating EU member states instead of validating separately in each state.

A Unitary Patent will be enforced, invalidated and renewed as a single right through the UPC, a new pan-European court. This raises new benefits, risks and costs for patent proprietors.

In addition, the UPC also has jurisdiction over both existing and future European patents in the participating EU countries unless the owners of these European patents opt out. This means by default the UPC will initially run parallel to national courts and will ultimately replaces national courts as the competent forum for hearing revocation and infringement actions on European patents valid in the participating EU countries.

Decisions Needed, Assistance Available

Patent applicants and proprietors should consider whether to validate new European patents as Unitary Patents and whether to opt-out their existing European patents and patent applications from UPC jurisdiction.

With the UPC and UP available there is still time for these decisions to be made, and GJE are ready to provide guidance. We are offering a tailored service to clients and others who would like advice on the Unitary Patent and the UPC opt-out. Should you be interested in this service or have other questions about the UPC and UP, please contact us here, at or through your usual GJE contact.