Unitary patents – an overview

The European patent with unitary effect (unitary patent) will be introduced on 1st April 2023. It is an optional protection, which can be obtained upon the grant of a European patent.

On same date, the Unified Patent Court will open its doors.

Legal framework

The unitary patent is created by two EU regulations issued in 2012, which were adopted through the route of enhanced cooperation between a number of “participating” EU member states (25 to date).

The application of the regulations depends on the entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) of 19 February 2013 which establishes a specialized patent jurisdiction with pan-European competence.

The protocol on provisional application of the UPC Agreement entered into force on 19 January 2022.

The regulations will enter into force on the first day of the 4th month after the ratification of the UPCA by Germany, expected in December 2022.

As shown in the below timeline, the system will go live on 1 April 2023.

A unitary patent

The unitary patent provides uniform protection and produces identical effects in all participating member states. It can only be limited, transferred, revoked or lapse in respect of all of them.
A single maintenance fee will be payable annually to the EPO (total cost less than €5000 over the first 10 years).

Territorial scope

Initially the unitary patent will cover the 17 countries which have ratified the UPC Agreement: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Slovenia.
Any participating member state (currently 25) can ratify and join the system. This does not affect the coverage of European patents for which unitary effect was previously registered.

Obtaining unitary effect

On grant of the European patent, the patent owner will have the choice between a unitary patent or classical validation of his patent in his countries of interest. The two protections coexist.

The request for unitary effect must be submitted by the owner to the European Patent Office within one month of the mention of the publication of the grant of the European patent. No fee is required.

Unitary effect can only be obtained for a European patent filed on or after 01.03.2007, and which has the same set of claims for all participating member states.


The new system abolishes translations by relying on high quality machine translations.
For a transitional period of 6 to 12 years, an English translation will have to be provided if the patent is granted in French or German. If the patent is granted in English, a translation will have to be provided in another EU language.

Transitional measures

Two measures have been announced by the EPO. As from 1 January 2023 it will be possible to:

  • file an early request for unitary effect ; and
  • delay the grant of the European patent.


The UPC will have jurisdiction over European patent litigation in general. During a transitional period of 7 years, the owner of a patent (or application) will have the possibility to opt out from the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC by notifying their opt-out to the Registry (except for unitary patents), so that litigation can be brought before a national court.

A sunrise period of 3 months will allow patentees to file their opt-outs in advance.

Practical considerations

The creation of the unitary patent and the UPC is imminent and will considerably change the European patent system.
It is time for patent holders to review their portfolios, and determine which applications will be validated by the classical route or transformed into a unitary patent. Questions of delaying the examination procedure and of the opt-out should be raised.

Philippe Ocvirk, Partner | European patent attorney

Click this link to download our notice on the Unitary Patent.

Philippe Ocvirk recognized as World´s Leading IP Strategists by IAM

Philippe Ocvirk recognized as World´s Leading IP Strategists by IAM

Congratulations to Philippe Ocvirk for being recognized as the World´s Leading IP Strategists by IAM Strategy 300 – 2022 

Nouveau Comité de Direction

Nouveau Comité de Direction

Office Freylinger est heureux d’accueillir au sein de son Comité de Direction Marie-Christine Simon, Directeur Marques, ainsi que Pascale Vandorpe, Directeur Formalités.

Marie-Christine fait partie de notre Office depuis plus de 16 ans et était depuis octobre 2019 notre Head of Trademarks.  Elle est European Trademark and Design Attorney, Luxembourg IP Attorney (Conseil en Propriété Industrielle).  Elle est autorisée à exercer devant l’Office Benelux de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OBPI), l’Office de l’Union européenne pour la propriété intellectuelle (EUIPO) et l’Organisation Mondiale de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OMPI). 

Pascale Vandorpe, qui a rejoint notre office en 2002, était depuis 2019 responsable des Formalités et en charge du développement de toutes les formalités (brevets, marques, dessins, annuités, traductions, enregistrements), de l’application de la politique commerciale, du respect des délais, de la qualité et des procédures.

Nouveau site internet !

Nouveau site internet !

C’est avec plaisir que nous vous informons de la publication de notre nouveau site internet.

Après plusieurs mois de développement, nous sommes heureux de pouvoir vous présenter la vitrine de notre société sur la toile.  

Ce site a été pensé pour nos clients, pour nos partenaires mais aussi pour toute personne intéressée par la PI.

Nomination de Marie-Christine Simon au poste de Directeur Marques

Nomination de Marie-Christine Simon au poste de Directeur Marques

Office Freylinger a le plaisir de vous annoncer la nomination de Marie-Christine Simon au poste de Directeur Marques.  

Marie-Christine fait partie de notre cabinet depuis plus de 16 ans et était depuis octobre 2019 notre Head of Trademarks.

Marie-Christine est European Trademark and Design Attorney et Luxembourg IP Attorney (Conseil en Propriété Industrielle).  Elle est autorisée à exercer devant l’Office Benelux de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OBPI), l’Office de l’Union européenne pour la propriété intellectuelle (EUIPO) et l’Organisation Mondiale de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OMPI). 

Marie-Christine et son équipe se tiennent à votre entière disposition, en français, en anglais et en allemand, pour vous conseiller dans la stratégie de dépôt de protection, les litiges liés aux marques, dessins et noms de domaine, des audits des portefeuille de droits de PI ainsi que des recherches de marques.

Leurs domaines d’expertise sont les suivants : Marques, Dessins & Modèles, Contrat de licences, Noms de domaines, Logiciels et droits d’auteurs.

Départ à la retraite

Après 30 ans au sein de notre cabinet, Monsieur Pierre Kihn prend sa retraite en date du 1er aout 2022. Nous le remercions pour sa contribution au développement d’Office Freylinger et lui souhaitons tout le meilleur dans sa nouvelle tranche de vie.

« Ideas Powered for business » – Financial support to SMEs for trademarks, designs and patents

This year again, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has launched its grant scheme designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are defined according to the following criteria: fewer than 250 employees, less than EUR 50 million in turnover and an annual balance sheet total of less than EUR 43 million.

The terms and conditions of the SME Fund running until 16 December 2022 have somewhat changed compared to the previous year.

For a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) established in the European Union, it is now possible to be granted a voucher of EUR 1500 to cover 75% of the trademark and/or design fees at national or regional level within the EU, 50% of the non-EU trademark and design fees filed via the Madrid or Hague system (i.e. international trademarks and designs), as well as a voucher of EUR 750 to cover 50% of the fees for national patents.

Since the available funds are limited, applications first received by the EUIPO will be given priority.

The process is made of 4 steps:

  • Submit the application for obtaining a grant
  • Obtain the grant award notification from the EUIPO and the corresponding voucher
  • Request and pay for the IP activities that may be reimbursed
  • Apply for reimbursement

While applying for such a grant, you should be aware that you will have to wait before proceeding to the IP activities (filings, payment of fees etc.), possibly for several weeks, in order to obtain the grant award for reimbursement from the EUIPO.

Our firm will be pleased to assist you with all the administrative steps which are required for this grant application.

Documents to be provided are as follows:

a. Your company’s VAT certificate

b. Bank statement of the company containing the name of the company, the complete IBAN number with the country code and BIC/SWIFT code

c. Signed “Declaration of honour” enabling us to represent you in this procedure

Do not hesitate to contact us for any further information on this grant scheme.

Nathalie Cailteux

EPO 2022 fee increases

The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced a rise in many of its official fees (EPO Official Journal). The timing is in line with previous fee increases taking place biennially; most of the affected fees are increased by around 3%.

The new rates will apply to official fees paid on or after 1st April 2022 and so for some fees where the applicant has a choice over the timing of payment, savings may be made by proceeding before April.

Consider anticipating payments

We would particularly recommend clients to consider the savings that can be made by anticipating payments for:

Renewal fees: fall due on the last day of the month containing the anniversary of the date of filing of the European patent application. The payment can be made 6 months in advance in respect of the third year and 3 months in advance for the other years.

EPO regional phase: consider anticipating the fee payments in respect of pending PCT applications. It should be kept in mind that without an explicit request for early processing, the EPO will wait until the 31-month period has expired to process the international application. Accordingly, the payments can be made early without actually anticipating the prosecution of the application.

Divisional applications: make a decision on the opportunity of filing a divisional application before April and save on filing and search fees as well as on the (often many) back renewal fees due for the divisional application.

For more information on the increase in fees, and to discuss your options in filing early to save costs, please get in touch with your usual Office Freylinger attorney, or contact us here.

Philippe Ocvirk

Office Freylinger participe à la Job Fair du CEIPI !

Office Freylinger est fier de participer à la Job Fair du CEIPI ce 23 février 2022.

Juristes, ingénieurs, professionnels de l’IP en devenir, n’hésitez à pas à nous envoyer vos candidatures !


China – changes to rules on use of registered trademarks

The Chinese Intellectual Property Institute (CNIPA) has decided to strengthen the rules on trademark use by setting the criteria for determining illegal acts relating to trademarks.

The rules list 10 types of general illegal acts relating to trademarks, including:

  • Failure of a licensee to indicate its name or a place of production
  • Failing to meet product marking obligations
  • Filing a trademark in bad faith (especially for a local distributor)

Furthermore, a trademark that is ultimately rejected, cancelled or invalidated by the Office should no longer be used as a trademark, in particular to avoid an investigation and an administrative sanction.

Finally, if you use a trademark that is not registered in China, we recommend that you do not use the ® registration symbol or other symbols or terms indicating that your trademark is registered. Therefore, if you intend to market products in China with an unregistered trademark, it would be safer to have these symbols removed before the products enter China.

This law came into force on 1 January 2022.

If you have any questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

UPC ahead!

UPC ahead!

Following Austria’s ratification with the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, the  Protocol on Provisional Application of the UPC Agreement has entered into force today, 19 January 2022.

As announced by the UPC Preparatory Committe (here):

This event marks the start of the Provisional Application Period (PAP) and the birth of the Unified Patent Court as an international organisation.

More information coming soon.

Philippe OCVIRK