After the patent is granted, there will be no need to validate it one by one in each country, making the whole procedure simpler and much less expensive. Inventors will no longer have to comply with complex validation requirements that vary by jurisdiction, and most importantly, the introduction of the unitary patent will substantially lower translation costs in the participating Member States.
Anybody, regardless of the country of origin, can opt for a unitary patent. Administration is centralized at the EPO throughout the patent’s lifetime, until the end of the patent term (20 years from the filing date of the patent application at the latest).
- The 'unitary patent package' consists of three elements:
- Council Regulation 1257/2012 - Unitary Patent – (December 17, 2012) creating a European patent with unitary effect (or unitary patent);
- Council Regulation 1260/2012 - Translation of Unitary Patent – (December 17, 2012) establishing a language regime applicable to the Unitary patent;
- Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – (January 11, 2013) - international agreement among Member States setting up a single patent jurisdiction: the Unified Patent Court (UPC).
Current situation regarding translation regime
Applications for European patents can be filed in any language. However, if the application was not filed in English, German or French, a translation into one of the official languages of the EPO needs to be provided. This becomes the language in which the proceedings are conducted and in which the patent is granted. Also, before grant, translations of the claims into two other official languages other than the language of the proceedings have to be filed. This language regime remains the same for the unitary patent.
During a transitional period ranging from 6 to 12 years (sooner if the European Council decides that high quality machine translations into all official languages of the Union are available on-line and free of charge, and terminates the transitional period) unitary patents that were granted in French or German will need to be translated into English and the ones granted in English will have to be translated to another official language of the European Union.
It is important to stress that in this phase a translation to another official language of the Union has no legal effect and is for information purposes only. Importance of choosing another official language of the Union comes only in the later stage in case of proceedings before the UPC.
In the event of a dispute relating to an alleged infringement of a unitary patent, the patent proprietor shall provide, at the request and the choice of an alleged infringer, a full translation of the unitary patent into an official language of either the participating Member State in which the alleged infringement took place or in which the alleged infringer is domiciled.
In the event of a dispute related to a unitary patent, the patent proprietor shall provide, at the request of a competent court in the participating Member States, a full translation of the patent into the language used in the proceedings.