By the end of this article you should understand the next sentence.
Thanks to the CJEU, the EPO will give you EPP through a UP under the UPC; assuming, of course, it is 4 months after 13 signatories including FR, DE, and UK ratify it.
This article will also attempt to answer the journalist's five questions: Who, What, Where, When, and Why regarding the new Unitary Patent for Europe.
Who (cares)? You should if you plan on patenting an invention in Europe beginning next year. Up to 80% may be saved in costs, but more on costs later. Who will be in charge? The European Patent Office (EPO) will handle applications and the new Unified Patent Court (UPC) will decide cases covering Unitary Patents (UP). Agreement regarding the Unified Patent Court was a big sticking point for the Unitary Patent, and one reason it has taken since the 1940s to get here.
What? There will be three patent options:
(1) Classical European Patents filed through the European Patent Office and validated in select countries (member states).
(2) National Patents filed directly in each country.
(3) New Unitary Patents that will be valid and give Unitary Patent Protection (UPP) in every member state. Unitary patents can be thought of as a 'super country' option that can be chosen rather than the historic country options.
BTW, the many names of the Unitary Patent include: the European patent with unitary effect, the European Union patent (EU patent), Community patent, European Community Patent (EC patent sometimes abbreviated as COMPAT).
Where? Given this is a European Union Patent, 'Where?' may be assumed obvious. Of course not. Italy and Spain have opted-out for language reasons. While Classical European Patents can be validated outside of the European Union in 38 countries (European Patent Convention members), Unitary Patents will not cover countries outside the European Union (or Spain & Italy). Further, only European Union countries that ratify the European Patent Court will be included. Glad you asked?
When? When will all of this begin? For those who care, Unitary Patents should be authorized on the 1st day of the 4th month after ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement by at least 13 European Union countries including France, Germany, and the UK. For those who do not need such detail, the first Unitary Patent will probably be issued in late 2015. The decision to get a Unitary Patent is made at the time a European Patent is granted.
Why? Reasons to go with a Unitary Patent include saving money, avoiding national fragmentation, and simplification. Compared to fees for multiple countries, the intent is for Unitary Patent fees to be significantly cheaper - details follow. Instead of the complexity of paying these fees to many countries, all interaction will be with only the European Patent Office. Similarly, one court, the Unified Patent Court, will handle disputes, not fragmented individual countries. Why a Unitary Patent now after decades? One reason is that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) dismissed Spain and Italy's suits to block the Unitary Patent. Another reason is the global momentum for patent harmonization generally.
How (much)? Estimated cost is $9k (6.5k euro). This compares with over $50k for all European Union countries today. Break-even will be roughly four countries. Therefore, it will probably be cheaper to take the new Unitary path rather than individually filing in four or more European Union countries. A Unitary Patent will be obtained by validation, similar to validating a European Patent in a specific European Union country today.
Summary: Concluding, in English without acronyms, in 2015 there should be an option for European Patent Applications to be granted a Unitary Patent that is valid in (almost) all European Union countries for a savings of up to 80%. For more information, see the footnotes and the European Patent Office web site; URL: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/issues/unitary-patent.html.
And as always please SPREAD THE WORD!
This is one example of how, here at MCR, we try to keep the community informed of the changing legal landscape. Please contact me or anyone here for more information. And please pass this along to anyone you know who may be interested in intellectual property legal services. Author David Rardin may be contacted at [email protected] and (603) 886-6100.
David A. Rardin, Esq., Member
Registered Patent Attorney
 Cost estimates are from the European Commission web site FAQs for patents; URL: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/patent/faqs/index_en.htm
 Date estimate for late 2015 is from a March 18, 2014 Preparatory Committee for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) meeting. They announced that the target date for the launch of the UPC may be the end of 2015. http://www.unified-patent-court.org/news/73-fifth-meeting-of-the-preparatory-committee-18-march-2014