The European patent with unitary effect, also known as the unitary patent, is a European patent which benefits from unitary effect in the Member States of the European Union. Other contracting members of the European Patent Convention (EPC) cannot benefit from the unitary patent. The regulations establishing the rules of the unitary patent (No. 1257/2012 and No. 1260/2012) are in force since 1 June 2023.
- Main article: Harmonization of European patent systems
The unitary patent constitutes a special agreement within the meaning of Article 142 EPC, a regional patent treaty within the meaning of Article 45(1) PCT and a special agreement within the meaning of Article 19 of the Paris Convention.
The unitary patent has a unitary effect according to Article 3 Regulation No. 1257/2012:
1. A European patent granted with the same set of claims in respect of all the participating Member States shall benefit from unitary effect in the participating Member States provided that its unitary effect has been registered in the Register for unitary patent protection.
A European patent granted with different sets of claims for different participating Member States shall not benefit from unitary effect.
2. A European patent with unitary effect shall have a unitary character. It shall provide uniform protection and shall have equal effect in all the participating Member States.
It may only be limited, transferred or revoked, or lapse, in respect of all the participating Member States.
It may be licensed in respect of the whole or part of the territories of the participating Member States.
3. The unitary effect of a European patent shall be deemed not to have arisen to the extent that the European patent has been revoked or limited.
The scope of that right and its limitations shall be uniform in all participating Member States in which the patent has unitary effect.
As a national patent
A unitary patent is treated in all the participating Member States as a national patent of the participating Member State.
- Article 18(2) Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Recital 4 Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Recital 26 Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Article 1(1) Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Council Decision of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (2011/167/EU).
- Recital 6 Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Article 1(2) Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Article 142 EPC.
- Article 45(1) PCT.
- Article 3 Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Article 5(2) Regulation No. 1257/2012.
- Article 7(1) Regulation No. 1257/2012.