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Unitary patent

Over winter 2012/2013, EU countries agreed on a 'patent package' (Regulations (EU) No 1257/2012 and 1260/2012, and an Agreement on a Unified Patent Court) one element of which is the European patent with unitary effect, also known as the unitary patent.

The objective of the unitary patent is to ensure uniform protection for an invention across all EU countries (except Croatia, Italy and Spain). It reduces considerably the burden on businesses and the cost of obtaining a patent. It therefore helps make Europe more competitive and encouraging innovation.

The participating countries (plus Italy) have signed an international agreement setting up the Unified Patent Court (Council document No 16351/12), which will be the future centralised patent jurisdiction for the unitary patent.

Inventors will still have the option to apply for national patents and 'classical' European patents (i.e. without unitary effect).