From the outset, as far as the renewal fees for a European patent with unitary effect are concerned, they will be "similar to the level of the national renewal fees for an average European patent taking effect in the participating Member States at the time the level of the renewal fees is first set." Obviously the level of fees may change over time because (as noted in the section "The role of the EPO and financial provisions"), the new regime is to be self financing.

However on average European patents are currently validated in about five to six countries – the most usual ones being the United Kingdom, France and Germany, followed by Italy and Spain.

Thus from a renewals fees ... five or six EU Member States. A further consideration is that in practice many businesses reduce the geographical coverage of the protection given by any particular patent family (and hence the overall renewal costs) as the patent family gets older. The inability to effect a partial reduction within the EU on a country by country basis for European patents with unitary effect is a further consideration to take into account when considering its financial attractions.

The translation costs will also have to be taken into account – but again these will depend on the EU Member States in which patent protection is sought (see the section "Translation and language arrangements").


There are many queries regarding the new regime, ranging from the judges who will be appointed (and in the case of technical judges in particular, the extent to which they will in practice consider the views of experts who give evidence), to the way in which damages will be assessed.

It may well be that businesses will wish to evaluate further the uncertainty and risks before committing themselves to the new regime.

Supplementary documents

See supplementary documents for further information on:

  • A short introduction to the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court
  • The Unitary Patent
  • The role of the EPO and financial provisions
  • Translation and language arrangements
  • The Unified Patent Court
  • Situations where the permanent long term provisions will not apply (including transitional provisions and opt-out)
  • Developments since signature of the Unified Patent Court Agreement

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.