1. What is a UP?

    A new pan-EU patent right covering up to 25 Member States who have signed up to the UPC Agreement. (Currently all EU Member States except Spain, Croatia and Poland.)

  2. How do I get a UP?

    European Patents will be prosecuted as normal and a patentee must file a request for unitary patent protection at the EPO no later than one month after the mention of grant of the patent is published.  A combination of a UP together with a classical EP in one or more EPC contracting states (such as Spain, Turkey, Norway) will be possible. 

  3. How much does a UP cost?

    The renewal fees have been set as equivalent to the renewal fees of the 'Top4' states in which EPs are currently validated. A significant saving if you are validating in more than 4 Member states.

  4. What language will the UP be available in?

    If prosecuted in German or French then must provide full translation in English.  If prosecuted in English then provide full translation in official language any Member State. If issuing proceedings, Defendants can ask for full translation to Defendant's language.

  5. What is the UPC?

    A new court with an entirely new set of rules that will have exclusive jurisdiction over UPs and (for at least 7 years, probably 14 years) non-exclusive jurisdiction over existing EPs. The central court will deal with revocation & DNI actions and local / regional courts will deal with infringement, including preliminary injunctions. (This is subject to rules on dealing with counterclaims, stays and transfers between the courts.)

  6. Where is the Court?

    The central division is headquartered in Paris, with divisions in London (pharmaceuticals, chemistry and medical devices) and Munich (mechanical engineering) with Paris dealing with electronic and software cases. Germany has announced 4 local courts (Munich, Düsseldorf, Mannheim and Hamburg) and we expect a local court to be set up in the UK (London – having the same location as the central division), the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, France, Finland, Denmark and Austria.  One Regional Court has been agreed between Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (Stockholm).  Most courts have indicated that English will be one of the possible languages and central division will use language of the patent. The Court of Appeal & registry will be in Luxembourg.

  7. How much will it cost to litigate in the UPC?

    It should cost less than litigating a patent across a number of national courts.  Infringement proceedings and Preliminary Injunction will cost €11k + a value-based cost (€2.5 - €325k). Revocation actions, €20k.  There will also be a value-based cap on recoverable costs up to €1.5m for an action worth > €50m.

  8. Who are the Judges?

    We expect that all of the existing national patent judges will participate together with technical judges (patent attorneys? lawyers?) and new judges are being trained.

  9. Can I opt out of the UPC?

    Yes. Holders of existing EPs can opt-out at no charge. These EPs will be litigated in the national courts as before. The patentee can at a later date irrevocably opt back into the UPC system at no charge. Alternatively patentees can just go 'national' and not through the EPO at all, thereby avoiding the UPC. There will be a sunrise provision to allow registration of the opt-out before the system goes live. UPs can’t be opted-out.

  10. Who can opt out?

    The 'proprietor' – so there is a need to check all licences as to who owns the patent (including if jointly held) and does the exclusive licensee have any rights / interests in the opt-out?

  11. When is the UPC system likely to go live?

    Likely to be approximately 6 months after Germany ratifies the Agreement on the UPC- estimated to be Winter 2016 - so Spring 2017.

  12. Will Brexit derail the UPC?

    No. If the UK exits the EU we expect the UPC to still go live but most likely with a delay. The member states will need to consider whether to move the London central division elsewhere (perhaps to Italy?) and pick up the UK's responsibilities for the IT system. 

  13. What are the advantages of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court?

    Powerful pan-EU right enforceable in a single Court action.  For patentees who validate patents in more than 4 member states renewal fees (and associated validation / translation costs) reduced.

  14. What are the advantages of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court?

    Powerful pan-EU right enforceable in a single Court action.  For patentees who validate patents in more than 4 member states renewal fees (and associated validation / translation costs) reduced.

  15. Is the UPC going to be abused by NPEs or Hedge Funds shorting stocks?

    This was an area of concern during the negotiations about the UPC and remains a concern if well-funded NPEs and Hedge Funds.  However, unsuccessful parties will have potential costs awards to consider as well as relatively high up-front fees to launch proceedings so the UPC will be less attractive than jurisdictions with lower court fees and/or the ability to recover costs.