What are the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent (UP)?

28 February 2023


We’d like to make you aware of the biggest change to European Patent Law since its inception in the 1970s (Unified Patent Court). It will happen on the 1st of June 2023, and might impact you if your business holds European Patents.

Unified Patent Court

On Feb 17th 2023, Germany ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC), which will enter into force on 1 June 2023.

The UPC is an international court set up by participating EU Member States to deal with the infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and European patents, putting an end to costly parallel litigation and enhancing legal certainty.

This represents the biggest change to European Patent Law since its inception in the 1970s. The UK is not participating in the UPC.

Unitary Patent

The Unitary patent (UP) will be different to the classic European Patent in many ways, especially as it will have ‘unitary effect’ across all the participating countries very similar to a EU Trade Mark.

Unitary Patents will make it possible to get patent protection in all 17 states that have ratified it so far (including Germany, France and Italy) by submitting a single request to the EPO. The seven EU member states that have not yet ratified the UPC (e.g. Rep. of Ireland, Spain and Greece) can ratify it at any time.

Together they will supplement and strengthen the existing centralised European patent granting system. They will offer users of the patent system a cost-effective option for patent protection and dispute settlement across Europe.


  • The main opportunity is cost, a Unitary Patent will cost about the same as a US Patent, there will be no validation after grant and renewal fees will be reduced significantly when compared to the classic European Patent.
  • The main risk is the threat of a single central revocation action instead of at one or more national courts of each country in which the European patent is in force).

Many patent applicants will take a wait and see approach (opt out) on the UPC, because it is so new and untested.

If you have any questions on the Unitary Patent or the Unified Patent Court, please contact ip@abgi-uk.com.