Unitary patent

The European patent system is under reform. As an option besides the existing patents, a European-wide patent is being planned for the protection of inventions. Furthermore, setting up a Unified Patent Court to make it possible to address patent disputes with legal bearing across the whole of Europe is under consideration.

For the unitary patent system to come into force, the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court has to be ratified by at least 13 EU member states, including the three most popular member states for validating European patents. Finland ratified the agreement in January 2016.

There is updated information about the ratification progress on this EU website.

Ulkoinen sivusto, avautuu uuteen välilehteen

The unitary patent system will come into force and the Unified Patent Court begin its operations as soon as Germany has ratified the agreement. It is currently estimated that the unitary patent system will be introduced in early 2023.

European patent, but with a unitary effect

The European unitary patent will become a new alternative to protect inventions in Europe. The classical European patent has to be separately validated in each of the EPC-contracting states, whereas the unitary patent is given unitary effect for the territory of all the states participating in the scheme. When it becomes a reality, the unitary patent will be a regional, supranational alternative to the current European patents and national patents; it will provide a geographically comprehensive and unitary protection for your invention.

The European Patent Office (EPO) will grant both classical European patents and unitary patents. The application procedure at the EPO will not change. After a European patent is granted, you can request that it will be registered as a unitary patent.

Read more about the unitary patent on the EPO website.

You will also find a Unitary Patent Guide on the EPO website.

The current European patent system will be maintained alongside the unitary patent system. This will enable you to limit the patent protection to certain specific countries if this is the best and most cost-effective solution for you. Read more about the European patent.

Unified Patent Court (UPC)

In the future, disputes over unitary patents and classical European patents, which are dealt with in national courts at the moment, will be litigated by the Unified Patent Court (UPC). This means that a dispute will be resolved in one go for all the countries that are party to the UPC.

The UPC will have central divisions in Paris and Munich. Due to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the planned location of the central division in London has to be moved. Moreover, local and regional divisions have been set up by countries that are party to the UPC. The Court of Appeal will have its seat in Luxembourg.

A local division will be set up in Finland, which would allow disputes over unitary patents to be litigated in the country. Go to the UPC website for more information.

Further information

The Confederation of Finnish Industries and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have drafted a paper discussing the impacts of the unitary patent system on Finnish businesses. The paper also describes the main features of the system reform. Go to the report on the website of Confederation of Finnish Industries.

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Latest update 19.07.2022