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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Rutman


Since its original implementation on 7th October 1977, the European Patent Convention (EPC) has facilitated the granting of European patents for inventors through a centralized patent granting process. This process involves the European Patent Office (EPO) examining the European patent application, eliminating the need for inventors to individually file national patent applications across EPC contracting states. This approach ensures both cost efficiency and the maintenance of patent quality.

However, the subsequent validation and maintenance of a European patent granted by the EPO necessitate individual procedures in each desired country. This undertaking is intricate and potentially expensive, given the varying validation requirements among countries. This includes translation expenses, validation fees (required in some member states for translating and publishing documents), and representation costs covering attorney fees and national renewal fee payments. The magnitude of these expenses hinges on the number of countries in which the patent holder seeks validation. Unitary Patents alleviate the complexity and financial burden associated with national validation procedures. The EPO plays a pivotal role in the operational aspects of the Unitary Patent, serving as a streamlined hub for simple Unitary Patent registration. Some key points:

  • No (extra) fees are applicable for filing, examining requests for use of the system, or registering Unitary Patents.

  • During a six-year transitional phase, post-grant translations are unnecessary, except for informational purposes with no legal consequences.

  • For entities such as EU-based SMEs, individuals, non-profit organizations, universities, and public research institutions, a new compensation structure addresses translation costs for patent applications filed in official EU languages other than English, French, or German. In what, to our knowledge, is a first, the EPO actually will pay you as opposed to the other way round - upon Unitary Patent registration, the entities mentioned above receive a lump sum of EUR 500 from the EPO to defray costs.

  • Unitary Patents eliminate the intricacies of the current fragmented renewal fee system, offering a single procedure and deadline, with all payments denominated in Euros, and no mandatory representation requirement.

  • The set renewal fees are notably competitive and particularly advantageous for the patent's initial ten years – the average lifespan of a European patent. Additionally, applicants save on indirect costs. Opting for a Unitary Patent becomes progressively more cost-effective with more countries for validation.

  • The EPO centrally manages all post-grant administrative tasks, further streamlining expenses and bureaucratic processes.

  • The online register provides comprehensive information on the legal status of Unitary Patents, including licensing and transfers. This transparency fosters technology transfer and bolsters investment in innovation.

  • Unitary Patents deliver consistent protection due to the harmonization of substantive patent law within the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. This harmonization covers the rights conferred by the Unitary Patent, potential limitations, and available remedies for infringement cases.

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