The EU’s United Patent Court is Open for Business

Before June 1, 2023, Europe was wrought with different patent systems and courts within each member state of the EU. Each country had its own court to hear patent cases – applying its own procedural laws. Now, after many unsuccessful endeavors, the European Union’s Unified Patent Court (UPC) has come into effect with headquarters in Paris, and its court of appeals and registry in Luxembourg.

The UPC provides a unified set of substantive and procedural laws that streamlines patent litigation within the EU, allowing global patent portfolios to be obtained and enforced. This pioneering change in the international litigation arena shall provide inventors with a single patent that protects their inventions in multiple EU countries, where those patents can be also challenged and defended.

Until now, the European Union lacked a common appeals court to guarantee uniformness in the law, and each European country had its own court to address patent cases. In addition, some countries, like Germany, Austria, and Hungary have bifurcated systems and as a result infringement and validity are processed by different courts and dissimilarities between procedures among national courts often brought about inconsistent decisions. Overall, it may be boldly stated that the UPC has put an end to a backward system where “bundle patents” issued by the European Patent Office may only be enforced or revoked in national courts that often came with burdensome processes. 

“The Unitary Patent system will strengthen the EU’s innovation and competitiveness and complete the Single Market for patents. It will initially cover 17 Member States, representing around 80% of the EU’s GDP. Participation is open to further Member States in the future,” claims the European Commission.

The UPC comes with a streamlined enforcement of patents that is wide ranging, and it is bound to make Europe more appealing against competitors, like China and America in launching innovative products, and hiking up European trade and investment. 

The discrepancies in the current European patent system in individual countries has thus far restricted the ebb and flow of patented inventions among EU countries. Most European patents are validated in only a few EU Member States to maintain low expenses. But the reconciled patent protection generated by the UPC shall positively impact trade and FDI flows in IP, particularly in the technology sector. 

Drawing on the research presented by the EPO, the “alignment of EU countries on the best existing standard of patent protection has the potential to generate a 2% increase (EUR 14.6 billion) in annual trade inflows and a 15% increase (EUR 1.8 billion) in annual FDI inflows in the EU.” In addition, expediting  “cross-border technology transfers” and closer affiliations across Europe. 

The registry containing data and the legal status on transfers of Unitary Patents and licences paves way for a capable and effective market for technology transfer among members, making the market more inclusive – easing technology transfers and research and development also among countries where European patents have not yet been validated.

Once the embedding of this one-stop shop is ready, unitary patents spark prospective collaborations in trade and technology, making Europe a central IP hub. The system has all the attributes to garner success via its expansive network, and as EPO President António Campinos also claims, “… it will be a boon for the European economy as it establishes a uniform technology market facilitating transactions across a big economic region [and] this huge step represents a historic moment for innovators and the protection of inventions in Europe.”  


This article originally appeared in The Brussels Report, see link: