Unitary Patent and UPC System: Advantages and Challenges

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A patent is a valuable set of rights conferred on companies to maintain exclusive rights to inventions to maximize their profit from the innovation. With over 190,000 applications filed at the European Patent Office in 2022, patents are of great use to various high-standing companies in Europe. 

Obtaining a patent in Europe is a very strenuous and expensive process that requires the patent holder to validate their patent in each of the member states of the European Patent Convention they wish to apply their rights in.  

The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) provide an easy, inexpensive, and straightforward means to validate your patent in all, eventually, participating countries with a single application.

What is the Unitary Patent and UPC System? 

Scheduled to launch on 1 June 2023, the unitary patent system will allow access to a single unitary patent that will be valid across, eventually, all participating countries in the using a single application to the European Patent Office (EPO).  

After the EPO grants the patent as usual, the European patent office gives one month for the patent holder to decide whether they want to seek unitary protection. If they file to get their patent unified, approval will alleviate the need to carry out the validation process across all the member countries individually.  

Except the patent holder submits an application to withdraw from the unitary effect of the European patent within the stipulated time, the patent application will automatically proceed with the unitary effect. 

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is a court that incorporates judges from all the participating European countries to preside over cases concerning the validation of unitary patents, infringements, and other legal matters involved in the unified patent system.   For the litigation process, parties will submit their complaint to get further information on the steps that lead to the trial. After attending the proceedings, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will confer its ruling on the case as any other court would.

Benefits of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court System 

The Unitary patent system is a design that constitutes various advantages that seem farfetched from the usual European patent system. These advantages include the following: 

  • Broad spectrum: the Unitary Patent system makes provisions to allow a single patent to gain protection in all participating countries with a single request. This means that when the patent holder obtains a unitary patent protection, the legal protection of the patent automatically applies across all countries participating in the unitary patent system at the time of its grant. The same applies to the unified patent court. All proceedings concerning the patent will not need to hold in the various locations. As now there is just one lawsuit whose decision will then be valid for all countries of the unitary protection.
  • Reduced complexity: Because the Unitary Patent will eventually apply to, all participating countries at the time of its grant, it presents a simple process that alleviates the necessity to choose the countries the patent needs to be validated in and provide potential translations to all the needed countries separately.  Proceedings of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will also shorten to a single proceeding that applies to all the participating countries.
  • Cost-effective: In the traditional European patent system, companies would undergo parallel validation and litigation across all participating countries. This multi-forum process would require a large deal of investment. The Unitary Patent system thus allows the companies to get better value for their money by shortening the number of validation proceedings and processes that the patent holders will undergo for validation and litigation. Because of this, it is awesome for small and medium enterprises that would otherwise, not seek patents due to the expenses. 
  • Easy Renewal: The “one size fits all” pattern of the Unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) makes it easier to renew your patent without going through multiple processes. In addition, the fees for the renewal of Unitary Patents are cheaper and ease the process for companies. 
  • Fast: The litigation process is set to be a lot faster than what is currently attainable. The Unified patent court will pass judgment within a year of the complaint. Because a single verdict will apply to all the participating countries, businesses can comfortably make complaints that they expect to be solved as soon as possible. 

Challenges of the Unitary Patent and UPC system

  • Easy attack: Even though it seems like a total win for your patent to be valid in several countries with the Unitary protection, it can also prove to be a total loss if something goes wrong. If an individual or competing company challenges a patent and wins in the Unified Patent Court, the verdict will apply to all 17 member countries, which currently allow the unitary process. This means that once someone attacks a patent, its defeat in court automatically nullifies its value in not just one country but all the member countries that consider your patent valid. This all-or-nothing nature can be scary to companies because, with the usual European patent, one would not lose all at once if anything goes wrong.
  • Fixed scope: Even though the patent will be valid across several participating countries, it is important to note that only about 17 countries are members at the moment, while 25 countries agree to be part of the Unitary Patent system. Thus, a patent is only valid among the participating countries at the time of the grant. An increase in the number of participating countries does not increase the number of countries the patent benefits can come from. 


The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) system is evidently an innovation that will benefit various people. You should start your journey toward obtaining a patent by searching for blogs and more information and patterns on patents you wish to acquire. 

Generally, if your innovation is estimated to have good market value, a patent is a great choice to help you maximize your profit. 

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