The European patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court represent the most important change in the European patent system in decades and will enter into force on June 1, 2023.
A European patent with unitary effect will provide uniform protection and will have equal effect in all participating Member States, which in the initial phase will be 17: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
The EPO will manage the procedure for the European patent with unitary effect, its register and the collection of the single annual renewal fee.
The Unified Patent Court will consist of a new legal entity that will have exclusive jurisdiction over all European patents with unitary effect, traditional European patents with validation in individual countries, and supplementary protection certificates derived from those patents.
For a period of at least seven years, traditional European patents can be withdrawn from the exclusive jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court by filing an opt-out request. The opt-out requests can be massively filed as early as March 1, 2023, for all granted European patents and European patent applications.
Although only 17 countries have up to now taken part to the new system, other countries that are members of both the European Union and the European Patent Convention will be able to join after having signed and ratified the regulations and agreements under the new system.