On 26thApril 2018,the United Kingdomhas deposited the instruments of ratification of the Agreement relating to the Unified Patent Court.

For the Unitary Patent to enter into force, the Agreement needs to be ratified by 13 of the 26 participating EU Member States, including France, Germany and the UK as the countries with the largest numbers of European patents in force. After the ratification of the UK, just the ratification of Germany is still needed for the Agreement to come into force.

The ratification in Germany is currently on hold due to a legal challenge at the German Constitutional Court, which is expected to be decided this year. The earliest date for the new legislation to commence is likely to be early 2019. 


What is the Unitary Patent?

When a European Patent application is granted, it becomes a “bundle” of individual national patents; one in each state in which it is validated. After the relevant legislation comes into force, it will be possible to obtain a so-called Unitary Patent for the relevant member states instead of requesting the validation in each of these countries separately. Therefore, Unitary Patent will be a single, indivisible patent that will cover most European countries (all members of the European Union except Spain and Croatia). 

The current validation system will be still available for all countries of the European Patent Convention regardless they are included in the Unitary Patent or not.


What is the Unified Patent Court?

It will be a new international court which will have jurisdiction over all Unitary Patents as to declare their nullity or infringement. It will also have jurisdiction over nationally validated European patents in the states covered by Unitary Patent, provided that patentees have not elected to opt out their patents from the UPC’s jurisdiction before any legal proceedings commence.