The European Patent Office (EPO) has traditionally provided a centralised application service for the examination and registration of European patent applications across multiple European countries. However, from an enforcement perspective the patents until this point have been treated individually in each participating country – making ongoing litigation potentially complex and expensive when dealing with multiple territories.
The Unified Patent Court has been introduced to enable central jurisdiction over all unitary and European patents registered within participating EU Member territories who have ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA. Key impacts of this include:
Jurisdiction for all current and future European patents within participating territories will now fall to the UPC, although these patents will continue to offer independent national rights in those territories where the necessary steps for validation have been taken. (Patents granted by national patent offices are not affected by the introduction of the UPC, meaning national patent litigation can continue to apply alongside UPC litigation.)
In addition to traditional European patents, applicants will now be able to apply for a unitary patent (UP), which offers patent protection across all participating states. The unitary patent is offered in addition to traditional national and European patents.
Following ratification from Germany in February 2023, an initial “sunrise” period of 3 months (starting 1st March 2023) was introduced to allow time for patent holders who wish to opt-out their existing European patents the opportunity to do so before the commencement of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) in full from 1st June 2023.
From this point, any infringement and validity actions involving unitary or European patents registered within one of the participating countries can be held under the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court (unless opted out of the UPC jurisdiction), although a transitional period of 7 years (extendable up to 14 years) will allow any actions to also be brought before the national courts.
Individual circumstances will dictate which is the best option for each patent, with varying and complex implications dependent on whether the UPC jurisdiction is applied or not. It is therefore important to fully understand the impact of each option on your patent – both in the short and long term – before taking any decision.
Our detailed insight post on the Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patents explains everything you need to know.
Our English-speaking, UK-based senior-level European Patent Attorneys/Litigators hold the necessary qualifications to represent you proficiently and effectively before the Unified Patent Court. The breadth of our experience handling European IP affords us unique insight into all aspects of both European and national patent law, meaning our clients benefit from a solid approach to multi-territory patent cases and a practical approach to any litigation.
Combining technical dexterity with legal familiarity our team operate as strategic advisors to your pan-European and global IP strategies, considering each implication within a long-term approach to your patent portfolio.
Your patent strategy should be more than just maintenance. This is why our patent portfolio management services include not only the handling of administrative tasks such as renewals, but also the application of a long-term strategic lens to your IP, ensuring we structure your patents to work in tandem with your long-term goals for the business. Services include obtaining new patent protection, generating value from existing patents, acquisition and licensing and selling and abandonment of patents that no longer offer value. Our approach to your patent portfolio ensures appropriate patent revenue generation through effective protection and defence strategies and solid patent costs management.
We are trusted and sought after by clients operating with global and European patent portfolios for our ability to litigate impactfully and cost-effectively. With a solid technical understanding in technology and engineering, we are able to quickly comprehend even extremely complex cases before guiding you through your litigation journey.
The right decision regarding opt-out is crucial to the ongoing effectiveness and cost management of your patent. We can provide the right advice and practical solutions to make the right choice for your IP strategy.
We have established relationships with patent attorneys throughout the world and through which we can coordinate international patent filing programs. Importantly, as these relationships are not fixed, we are able to choose the attorneys we use dependent on each client’s requirements.
All our team members are qualified as either patent or trade mark attorneys, giving you a high-level of professionalism and delivery. Our friendly team members each carry their own specialisms and background knowledge.
Our simple and proven approach aims to ensure the best possible outcome for any patents within your pan-European business and intellectual property portfolio.
The first, important stage is to understand your business and the part your intellectual property plays within it. We do this through meetings and reviews of your files and documentation. It is our job to draw out the uniqueness of your design at the very start of the process.
If you are aware of existing intellectual property that may impact your desired goal then we would carry out the necessary patent, patentability and freedom-to-operate searches as required to ensure any potential barriers/issues are identified and incorporated into next steps.
We then prepare the necessary documentation in line with the specific project we are working on. This will vary depending on your particular situation and requirements – for example it could be to map out on paper the unique invention for a patent or to prepare complex files for a revocation case.
We will then take the time to ensure you are happy with everything we have drafted before moving to the next stage of dealing with the relevant offices.
Depending on your specific case, we will then submit our documentation to the relevant patent offices and begin proceedings. With new applications we may also request search and examination reports from the relevant offices – before representing you at the various stages of any amendments to your patent specification.
There may be multiple stages of iterations and negotiations with the UPC and various intellectual property offices. Our experienced IP attorneys will represent you during these phases, keeping you informed throughout and advising you on how to proceed, obtaining your approval when appropriate.