The EU Unitary patent will provide a new way for inventors and innovators to protect their patent in the EU. Today, the patents are awarded by national IP offices and give protection in one country. The EU Unitary patent means that just a single application will be needed for a patent grant, providing a one stop shop covering the territory of 26 EU countries. It will reduce patenting costs for companies, especially SMEs and start-ups.
The European Commission is working on a whole package of measures to support innovative SMEs requesting EU Unitary patent and possibly other IP protection instruments.
The latest agreement reached on 17 November 2015 fixes the distribution key of revenues between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the national IP offices.
Next steps: the European Commission will continue to work with the 26 EU participating countries to set up the European Patent Court (UPC), an essential element in making the EU Unitary patent operational. So far, 8 EU countries have ratified the UPC : Austria, France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal. UK and Germany ratifications are absolutely necessary for the operation of the EU Unitary package. The EU Unitary patent is intended to come into force by the end of 2016.