The Unitary Patent system has been operative for a year now and generally seems to be going smoothly so far.

Recently there has been an important update, with the addition of Romania to the list of participating countries, with effect from 1 September 2024. 

The headline concept of the Unitary Patent is for single legal right to be granted to cover the European Union, in contrast to the old system which relied on a bundle of separate national rights. This concept is a compelling value proposition.  However, in reality not all of the 27 EU Member States have enacted the relevant legal framework; at present the Unitary Patent covers only seventeen countries. 

This list is now going to be updated for the first time on 1 September 2024 when Romania will join the Unitary Patent system. 

This will no doubt be welcome news for users of the system as it will increase the territorial scope and commercial value of a Unitary Patent, bringing a population of about 19 million under the scope of the system. 

Transitional Provisions 

Romania will be available for all European Patents which take up unitary effect from 1 September 2024 onwards, so will be available for many currently pending European Patent applications. 

As a reminder, once a European Patent is granted, a request for unitary effect must be filed within one month of the date of grant. 

This deadline remains in pace, but in order to help users avail themselves of the new system, the EPO has now activated a special procedure for applicants to request a delay of the registration of unitary effect.  This delay can be requested at the same time as filing the request for unitary effect. 

Future Expansion 

In the coming months and years it is anticipated that further countries will opt in to the new system, and so the territorial scope of the Unitary Patent will remain fluid for some time. 

For countries which are not participants in the Unitary Patent system (either being members of the EU who haven’t signed up yet, or members of the European Patent Convention (EPC) who are not members of the EU) separate national validations can still be filed in the normal manner. 

We welcome the expansion of the Unitary Patent system and are available to discuss your filing strategies at any time. 

 

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