In Europe it is currently possible to obtain a national patent through each country’s national Patent Office, or a European Patent which is examined and granted centrally by the European Patent Office (EPO).


A granted European Patent has to be converted to a bundle of separate national patents in chosen specific territories, through a process called “validation” which involves filing national translations and meeting other formal requirements which vary according to national law.  After grant, separate renewal fees must be paid in each individual country in order to keep the patents in force.

The existing European Patent system covers 38 core member states (including all of the EU members), and some other countries to which protection can be extended (technically called “extension states” and “validation states”).

There are some inefficiencies in the existing system.

  • Firstly, in order to secure grant it can be necessary to translate the European Patent into several languages during the validation process, which can become expensive if wide coverage is needed (although notable exceptions include Germany, France and the UK, where no further translations are needed).
  • Secondly, once patents are granted they can only be enforced in each country individually. A decision in one country is not binding on another, and there is some variation between practice in different countries.


To address these issues, the EU has recently passed the so-called “unitary patent package”, which has two main aspects: a Unitary Patent (UP) which will create a single patent right valid in multiple EU states, and a Unified Patent Court (UPC) which will provide a single venue for disputes.

Information accurate as of 27/02/2023



At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!