Reasons to choose a Unitary Patent
The main attractions of a Unitary Patent (UP) are wide geographical coverage at reasonable cost, and increased simplicity.
Broad geographical coverage at low cost
The UP will cover at least 17 EU countries and ultimately 25 countries if all EU countries in principle available as part of the Unitary Patent system ultimately ratify the UPCA. The cost of validating the European Patent as a Unitary Patent will be significantly lower than validating the European Patent in a large number of countries in the traditional way, because only a single translation will be required. Additionally, the renewal fees for a Unitary Patent will be equivalent to the total cost of renewal fees in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. For more than 6 countries the UP is likely to save you money compared to national validation. From another perspective, the UP will provide much broader coverage across at least 17 countries at a cost comparable to 6 national validations. The UP thus provides a cost-effective and more affordable solution to protecting an invention as widely as possible across Europe. The need to pay only a single renewal fee also reduces the administrative burden (compared with paying renewal fees to each of the national offices).
Possible increased flexibility for enforcement
There is some increased flexibility to use of the UPC compared to national courts when bringing an enforcement action under circumstances where the patent claims relate to a method or system that an infringer may implement across multiple participating countries. Stopping some types of cross-border activity can be complex using nationally validated European Patents and is often only possible in the court of one of the countries involved. Examples of such activity include processes where a first step of a process claim is conducted in a first country, and a second step is performed in a second country, and systems where different components of a system claim are sited in different countries. The single jurisdiction of a Unitary Patent means that such cross-border activities within multiple participating member countries may be regarded as a single infringing act and a patentee will often have a choice of which Local/Regional Division of the UPC to bring an infringement action in.
Guaranteed exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC
Choosing a UP also guarantees the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC. For nationally validated European Patents, there is a risk that the possibility of bringing an action for infringement at the UPC will be excluded due to national proceedings having been commenced in a national court. No such risk exists for a UP because only the UPC has jurisdiction. This means that a UP is guaranteed to benefit from the advantages that litigation at the UPC may provide, including the availability of injunctions and damage awards across numerous countries in a single infringement action.
Reduced administrative burden of portfolio management
Choosing a UP results in a single patent right covering multiple countries, and thus can simplify portfolio management. A single renewal fee is payable for the UP as a whole. Also, an assignment or license of a UP can be recorded centrally before the EPO in a single step. In contrast, separate renewal fees are payable for national validations, and it is necessary to record assignments/licences at each individual national patent office.