A guide to the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC)
What you need to know about the new Unitary Patent system and the issues you will need to consider.
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) has now been functional for just over 6 months. In this article we review some statistics in relation to the UPC and the uptake of the Unitary Patent which has come into being alongside the UPC.
At time of writing, 16,209 requests for unitary patents have been received, and 15,795 unitary patents have been registered.
Since it became possible to request unitary effect of a European patent (i.e. a Unitary Patent) on 1 June 2023, there has been a generally steady number of requests for unitary effect (between 2000 and 2500 requests per month from August to November 2023).
This excludes June and July, in which the numbers are affected by the entry into effect of the UPC itself. The numbers for June are relatively lower (being just under 2000 requests), on account of the fact that only patents granted after 1 June 2023 are eligible for the UPC. When combined with the translation requirements and 1 month deadline to request unitary effect, a relatively lower number of unitary patents were requested in June 2023.
This is contrasted with July 2023, wherein there was a noticeably larger number of unitary patent requests. This is likely due to the fact that the deadlines for requesting unitary effect of European patents granted in June 2023 will have fallen in July. This is compounded by the larger than usual number of European patents granted in June 2023, a consequence of the EPO allowing applicants to request a delay in the grant of patents until June 2023, to specifically allow for a granted patent to become a unitary patent.
Whilst full numbers are not yet available for December 2023, the steady trend appears to continue into December 2023.
In terms of percentages, around 17% of granted European patents are being registered as unitary patents. This appears relatively steady in line with the raw data above.
Of the requests for unitary effect, the vast majority (over 97%) of these proceed to registration. An extremely small number (just 21, or 0.1%) of requests have been withdrawn, and fewer still (only 7) have been rejected.
At present, there are 17 states in which a unitary patent has force. There are seven states who have signed the UPC agreement but have not yet ratified the agreement in the state. As such, it is expected that these states will, in due course, ratify the UPC agreement, and add to the number of states in which a unitary patent has effect. It remains to be seen whether this will increase the uptake rate for unitary patents, but it would seem to increase the uptake rate, as it would offer greater geographical protection for a patent for a lower cost.
All data has been taken from the EPO Unitary Patent dashboard, numbers correct as of time of writing.