Romania will join the Unitary Patent system with effect from 1 September 2024.

This brings to 18 the number of countries participating in the Unitary Patent system (all of which are necessarily member states of the European Union).

Consequently, European patents for which a request for unitary effect is registered from 1 September 2024 will automatically cover all 18 countries (i.e., including Romania). Such patents are referred to as “Unitary Patents”.

It should be noted that the territorial scope of Unitary Patents is determined by the participating countries at the date of registration. Thus, Unitary Patents registered before 1 September 2024 will not be extended to cover Romania.

Transitional Provisions

In order to allow those desiring a Unitary Patent to benefit from the territorial scope being extended to cover Romania, the European Patent Office (EPO) is currently accepting requests for a delay of the registration of unitary effect until 1 September. The request for unitary effect, together with the request for delay, must be filed within one month of the date of publication of the mention of grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin.

Benefits of a Unitary Patent

The advantages of the Unitary Patent system are that it offers reduced costs, a streamlined procedure, uniform protection and greater legal certainty.

There is also a centralised administration procedure, such that renewal fees are paid and subsequent transactions (e.g., licences) are recorded at the EPO – thus avoiding the need to deal with different national procedures in each of the countries concerned.

As the number of participating countries increases, and it is expected that more of the EU member states will join in the future, the Unitary Patent system becomes ever more attractive.

On the downside, however, it must be remembered that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has sole jurisdiction to decide on the validity and infringement of Unitary Patents.

If the UPC decides that a Unitary Patent is invalid, patent protection will be lost in all the countries that it covered.

Please Contact Us if you would like any further information on Unitary Patents or any other aspect of patenting an invention.