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Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court

Together, the unitary patent (UP) and Unified Patent Court (UPC) will comprise the biggest change to the patent landscape in Europe for more than 40 years. Most member states of the European Union (EU) have agreed to take part in the new system (subject to ratification), however, for the time being at least, neither Spain nor Poland are part of the unitary patent or the Unified Patent Court.

Unitary patent and Unified Patent Court advice

We are closely following the latest Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent developments and regularly publish news updates. If you would like to receive these, or if you have any UPC related questions or feedback, please contact partner and patent attorney Kirk Gallagher or partner solicitor Richard Willoughby, or email our UP & UPC specialists at

The impact of Brexit on the UP & UPC

The UK Government has, on 28 November 2016, confirmed it will proceed with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court. Preparations for UK ratification of the UPC Agreement will continue over the coming months.

This announcement raises a number of questions about the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court in the light of Brexit. You can read our Brexit-related UP & UPC frequently asked questions here:

If you would like to discuss filing strategies you should have in place in preparation for the UPC, please do get in touch. You can contact our team of UP & UPC specialists at

Our guides to the UP & UPC

The unitary patent (UP)

The unitary patent will provide a single patent right across all participating EU member states who have ratified, and will co-exist with a validated conventional European patent in non-ratified participating EU member states, non-participating EU member states (such as Spain) and non-EU EPC contracting states (such as Switzerland). The UP will be obtained in much the same way as conventional European patents, the option for 'unitary patent protection' being selected within one month of grant if desired.

A unitary patent will be a lot cheaper than EU wide protection under the current system but just how cost effective it will be will depend on how many EPC contracting states businesses are currently validating their European patents in, and whether this number is reduced over the life of the patent. The renewal fees for a UP are founded on a 'top 4' schedule based on validation in Germany, France, UK and the Netherlands. It is not, however, possible to drop states over the 20 year term of the patent by not paying a particular renewal fee; the UP is an 'all-in or all-out scheme'. For businesses validating in more than four states and maintaining at least four states over the life of the patent, the UP is therefore likely to be cost effective. This economic attractiveness is, however, reduced for businesses only validating in eg, three states and looking to drop one or two states over the 20 year term.

The Unified Patent Court

The Unified Patent Court will be the litigation forum for unitary patents and, subject to an opt out for a transitional period, all conventional European patents. It will also be possible to opt conventional European patents back into the UPC in order to enforce centrally. This will have significant implications for all holders of European patents, who should be actively considering the impact of the UPC on their portfolios. The UPC will not cover purely national patents.

Useful links

Contact us about the UP & UPC

Contact us about the UP & UPC



UP & UPC news and articles

UP & UPC news and articles


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