Unitary Patent: where are we at?

On June 1, 2023, the European patent with unitary effect came into effect. The new system entered into force after the ratification of the International Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), 20 years after the first proposal of the European Commission to create a “community patent”.

How the unitary patent works

The unitary patent is granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and it allows, upon payment of a single tax directly to EPO, to obtain patent protection simultaneously in all 17 EU countries which have ratified the UPC Agreement.

From June 1, 2023 also the Unified Patent Court (UPC) – competent for lawsuits concerning unitary patents and European patents – started its activity. The UPC will serve as a unique judicial organism for patent rights in the European Union, creating thus a harmonious judicial corpus aimed at providing a greater legal certainty concerning the right of European patent.

This new system will cooperate with the patent system currently used at national and European level. The aim is to simplify the procedures in force in Europe and to provide a uniform patent protection all over the member states.

Unitary Patent: where are we at?

The news system should increase the competitiveness of the European Union, facilitating the internal market of technology without barriers and centralizing the grant and validation system of European patents.

According to the EPO reports, the unitary patent has been positively accepted by the operators and the number of applications is constantly growing.

To this day, just over 3 months after the system went into effect, the unitary patent applications received by EPO are 9,293, of which 8,805 already granted. Most of the applications concern the field of mechanics and infrastructure (20,5%), followed by the field of materials (19,6%) and by technologies applicable to health (18,6%).

The country that filed the highest number of applications is Germany, with 1,816 applications filed since June 1stfollowed by the United States of America (1,299) and France (725).

438 applications have been filed from Italy, a higher number than United Kingdom (405) and Spain (117). With respect to the total number of applications received by the EPO, unitary patents requested from Italy show a higher sensibility to the field of space technologies (14,4% against 8,6% collectively recorded by the EPO) and agri-food (4.6% against 3,2% collectively recorded by the EPO).


Ilaria Feriti