Intellectual Property Law | The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court

Intellectual Property Law | The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court

Romania is in process of passing the law for the ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court[1] (the “UPC Agreement”), together the two EU regulations setting up the Unitary Patent (Regulations (EU) No 1257/2012 and (EU) No 1260/2012), make up the Unitary Patent package, designed to grant inventors and innovating companies in the countries where it was ratified a smoother and more cost-effective route to register and protect their patents.

Until now, 17 states[2] already ratified the UPC Agreement and participate in the Unitary Patent system, which entered into force on the 1st of June 2023. Romania is currently in process of ratifying[3] the UPC Agreement.


Unitary Patents

Patents are territorial rights, meaning that protection under a patent is granted only in the countries where it is registered. This entails challenges with respect to being granted patent rights within all relevant territories, as well as the subsequent management and enforcement of these patents, for any company seeking to safeguard their innovation across multiple jurisdictions. Although the “classical” European patents save the cost of filing national patent applications with each national office where protection is sought by centralising patent filings, they still require validation and renewal in each country where the applicant wishes it to take effect, which is a costly and burdensome process. The Unitary Patents system tackles this issue by eliminating the need for complex and costly national validation and renewal procedures.

In order to obtain a Unitary Patent, the applicant first needs to be granted a European patent by the European Patent Office, under European Patent Convention. After the European patent was issued, the applicant may seek unitary effect within the jurisdiction of all EU Member States engaged in enhanced cooperation and who have ratified the UPC Agreement.

The Unitary Patent does not substitute the current routes to patent protection, but is an additional option.

The European Patent Office, responsible for managing Unitary Patents, serves as a convenient one-stop-shop for registering a Unitary Patent. The main features of Unitary Patents are:

  1. One request for unitary effect, instead of multiple parallel requests in several countries;
  2. One register, instead of multiple parallel registrations in national patent registers;
  3. One annual renewal fee, instead of multiple parallel renewal fees in several countries.


Unified Patent Court

Before the launch of the Unified Patent Court (the “UPC”), matters pertaining to the infringement and validity of European patents fell under the jurisdiction of national courts and authorities, entailing the risk of parallel litigation (for instance, when a patent proprietor seeks to enforce a European patent in several countries), which may lead to diverging decisions and therefore a lack of legal certainty.

The creation of the UPC, a European specialised patent court set up to rule upon the infringement and validity of Unitary Patents and European patents under the UPC Agreement, eliminates the need to engage in legal proceedings before national courts in different countries and provides litigants with simpler, more affordable and quicker judicial procedures, also developing a harmonized European case law which enhances legal certainty and predictability.

The ratification of the UPC Agreement by Romania is expected to encourage the filing for patents and therefore enhance innovation, attract foreign transfers of technology and increase competitivity.


[1] The UPC Agreement (OJ EPO 2013, 287) was signed on 19 February 2013 by the EU Member States (except Croatia, Poland and Spain).

[2] Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden.

[3] The draft law was registered before the Senate for debate.