From 1 June 2023 the European Patent Office (EPO) will issue the European Patent with unitary effect ("unitary patent"); this document twill allow, through the payment of a single renewal fee directly to the EPO, to simultaneously obtain patent protection in the 25 EU countries participating in the initiative, namely: Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Portugal, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland.
At the time of its launch, it will cover only the 17 EU countries that have so far ratified the UPC: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Holland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden.
The unitary patent will not replace, but simply complement, the patent protection currently existing at national level (in Italy at the UIBM) and at European level (at the EPO). It will be operational only after the entry into force of the International Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which will take place on 1 June 2023; Germany deposited its instrument of ratification on 17 February 2023. UPC and the unitary patent system has designated Milan to host the local headquarters of the UPC in Italy.
The Protocol of Provisional Application of the UPC Agreement entered into force on 19 January 2022; from that date on, the UPC shall have legal personality.
The phase of provisional application is necessary to enable the selection, contracting and training of the UPC Judges and Technical Judges; as well as to make operational the central, regional and local divisions of the new Court, this phase will last until the end of May 2023.
From 1 January 2023, the transitional measures developed by the European Patent Office to anticipate the request for unitary effect or delay the granting of a European patent are operational.
The application forms for transitional measures are available on the EPO website.
On 1 March 2023, the sunrise period began, during which those entitled can make an opt-out request at the Registry of the UPC, that is, request the exclusion from the jurisdiction of the Court (Art. 83 of the transitional regime). This opt-out procedure applies only to European patents and complementary protection certificates granted for a product protected by a European patent. The opt-out was initially envisaged only during a transitional period of seven years after the entry into force of the UPC Agreement.