Unitary patent system – one year already

The unitary patent system came into operation on June 1, 2023. After one year, it can be considered a success.

Unitary patent

The European Patent Office has smoothly introduced this new title conferring uniform protection in 17 European countries.

To date, 28 179 European patents with unitary effect have been granted. This represents a conversion (uptake) rate of around 20%. In other words, one out of every five European patents granted is converted into a unitary patent, rather than being validated in the member states. (1)

Unitary patents are mainly used by European companies (64%).

On September 1, 2024, Romania will join the system, bringing the number of participating member states to 18.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC): pan-European jurisdiction

The UPC has its hands full. The new Court has exclusive jurisdiction – for participating states – over all European patents (unitary and validated – except opted-out) enabling Europe-wide disputes to be settled through a single procedure.

By its first anniversary, the Court had received 373 cases, including (2):

  • 134 patent infringement actions, the majority before German Local Divisions,
  • 165 counterclaims for invalidity
  • 39 patent invalidity actions before the Central Division
  • 32 actions for provisional and conservatory measures and injunctions.

The Luxembourg-based Court of Appeal has received around 85 cases.

The harmonizing effect of the UPC case law is crucial to establishing legal certainty and transparency within the new system, and offers users the predictability they need for their business activities.

(1) EPO UP Dashboard – https://www.epo.org/en/about-us/statistics/statistics-centre#/unitary-patent

(2) Case load UPC – https://www.unified-patent-court.org/sites/default/files/upc_documents/Case%20load%20of%20the%20Court_end%20May%202024_final.pdf

Philippe OCVIRK | European patent attorney | UPC Representative