EPO publishes Unitary Patent Guide

September 2, 2017

The European Patent Office (EPO) has published a ‘Unitary Patent guide’, a document intended to outline the procedures of the Unitary Patent system to prospective users.

The guide gives an coherent overview of the procedures and steps involved in obtaining and maintaining a patent with unitary effect. It gives, for example, an overview of the rules how to pay renewal fees. In addition it deals with a set of procedures related to Unitary Patents, such as the compensation scheme for translations costs or the licensing of patents.

As the guide is labelled as a first edition, it can be expected that more information will be added and fine tuned in the near future. The guide, however, provides a solid overview of the backbone of the system.

Some particular topics of interest are the territorial scope of the UP, the UP covers only those countries that have ratified the Unitary Patent agreement at the moment unified effect is granted, and the Brexit, if the Unitary Patent ceases to have effect in the United Kingdom, this will not leas to a loss of patent protection in the UK.


Specifically the guide states the following on the Brexit:

“Whether the United Kingdom continues to participate in the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court after its withdrawal from the EU will be a political decision for the EU, its remaining Member States and the United Kingdom and may be addressed as part of the exit negotiations.

Should the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU become legally effective, EU Regulations No 1257/2012 and No 1260/2012 creating the Unitary Patent will cease to apply there. This will not, however, lead to a loss of patent protection in the United Kingdom for Unitary Patent proprietors.

Appropriate solutions that avoid any loss of rights or legal uncertainty can be expected. The protection of acquired rights and the preservation of legal certainty are general principles of law respected throughout Europe.” 

Earlier this year, Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier already hinted at the possible move of the London based Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Currently the guide is only available as a PDF file, which can be downloaded here.