The apparently more correct and complete name according to the European patent system is “European patent with unitary effect”. Let’s call it “unitary patent” to approach it with less fear.
One can think that there will be a big mess in Europe with three different kinds of patents: the national ones, the conventional EP patents and the Unitary Patent when this last one enters into force. It will be a bit messy indeed!. Some say that only Gandalf can save Europe from the Unitary Patent – see www.unitary-patent.eu/content/only-gandalf-can-protect-europe-unitary-patent -.
However, there is still time to learn about this new protection possibility, and even once it comes into force, applicants will have the whole prosecution period of an application to decide whether they want a unitary patent, or a conventional EP patent, because the decision will have to be made upon acceptance of the European patent application for grant. And the end of said prosecution will not happen in less than a couple of years being optimistic ¡very optimistic!, since the EPO is not the fastest patent office in the world…
The exact wording of Article 18) of the Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 17th 2102 – which is one of the two regulations that will apply for the Unitary Patent to become a reality, reads:
“Article 18.(second paragraph)
(Entry into force of the Regulation)
2. It shall apply from 1 January 2014 or the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (the ‘Agreement’), whichever is the later.”
we can conclude that most probably the second option – entry into force of the European Patent Court will take place later than January 1st, 2014, because it has to be ratified by at least 13 signatory states (among them Germany, France and UNITED Kingdom) and until now only Austria has ratified the Agreement (August 7th 2013). You therefore will have – as indicated in the above paragraph – in the worst case between two and a half years and three years to unravel the misteries of the patents in Europe.
We shall comment and learn about the remaining articles of this crucial Regulation, and others…. At the moment we have started with the last one just to take a deep breathe and calm down. Seni Cueto