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Today we are publishing Part II of a sequence of short FAQ about the European Patent with Unitary Effect. The Part I covering Questions 1 to 4 can be found here:  1. What is the European Patent with Unitary Effect (EPUE)? 2. Which are the participating countries? 3. When is the expected entry into force? 4. How to get an EPUE?

Part II covers the following questions:

  1. What are the main consequences of the Unitary Effect?
  2. Will translations no longer be necessary?
  3. What are the renewal costs of the European unitary patent?
  4. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of the Unitary Effect?


  1. What are the main consequences of the Unitary Effect?

The most significant effects that automatically and irrevocably result from the Unitary Effect of a granted European Patent are of legal nature. Firstly, in accordance with the EU Regulation, the European Patent with Unitary Effect will have a unitary nature, which means it will benefit from uniform protection with equal effect in all the participating Member States. Secondly, the unitary patent will fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court which will replace the jurisdiction of national courts in each of the participating Member States.

Other consequences to consider are that the choice of the Unitary Effect will simplify national translation and validation requirements and will centralise patent renewals at the European Patent Office.

  1. Will translations no longer be necessary?

The European Patent with Unitary Effect will not be subject to translation and national validation requirements in the participating countries that have such protection requirements for “classical” European Patents (e.g. Austria, Bulgaria, or Portugal). In any case, a number of the participating countries had already dismissed the requirement to provide translations, either totally (e.g., Germany, France, or Belgium) or partially (e.g., Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, or Denmark), as a result of the London Agreement established in 2000.

On the other hand, during at least a 6-year transitional period, the request for Unitary Effect must be submitted together with a translation. The required translation should be in English (when the language of proceedings is French or German) or in another official EU language (when the language of proceedings is English). The text of such translations will have no legal effect and shall be published by the EPO for information purposes only.

  1. What is the cost of renewing the European unitary patent?

Until now, renewals of “classical” European patents, once granted and validated, must be made at the Patent Offices of each one of the countries where the European patent is in force, in accordance with the national requirements. The renewal of the Unitary European Patent will be centralised at the European Patent Office, giving rise to only one annual payment in Euros. It is calculated that the values established for the unitary fees are equivalent to the average renewal costs for “classical” European patents in the validation top 4 countries:

Renewal fee EUR Renewal fee EUR
2nd € 35 11th € 1.460
3st € 105 12th € 1.775
4th € 145 13th € 2.105
5th € 315 14th € 2.455
6th € 475 15th € 2.830
7th € 630 16th € 3.240
8th € 815 17th € 3.640
9th     € 990 18th € 4.055
10th € 1.175 19th € 4.455
20th € 4.855
  1. What are the main advantages and disadvantages of the Unitary Effect?

The Unitary Effect has complex implications for all the life cycle of a European Patent. It may not be appropriate in all situations and the option should depend on a cost-benefit and case-by-case analysis.

  1. A wide geographical coverage may be considered an advantage of the Unitary Effect. However, practice shows that “classical” European patents are generally not validated in more than 4 or 5 countries, which may indicate that there is no real need for a larger number of countries in most cases. On the other hand, some European countries are excluded from the Unitary Effect (where the usual route for “classical” European patents will continue to be offered):
    • EU countries that have not yet ratified the Agreement: Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Romania, and Slovakia.
    • EU countries which have already decided not to ratify the Agreement: Spain, Poland.
    • Other European countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland or Norway (since they are not members of the European Union).
  1. The possibility to litigate in the Unified Patent Court and obtain, in one case, a decision that applies in all 17 participating countries can be an advantage if it is necessary to take legal action or seek legal measures in order to enforce the patent simultaneously in multiple countries. In contrast, it also concentrates the risk of invalidation of the patent in one shot for all 17 participating countries, or the risk that the court finds the patent not to be infringed in any of those countries. In addition, a case before a new court and the application of new procedural rules could lead to greater unpredictability of decisions. Finally, the costs in UPC are expected to be higher than the costs for a national case before a national court.
  1. As for renewals, there is a significant simplification with the Unitary Effect, at least for some holders. Those who wish to protect their patents in more than four countries will have savings and simplification advantages, with fees and centralisation in one representative near EPO. However, flexibility will be lost, as the cost will be unitary for the entire duration of the patent, and the renewal costs cannot be partially reduced as a result of the loss of interest in a certain country.


Elsa Guilherme / Leonor Silveira / António Corte-Real

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