The unitary patent system provides benefits but also risks for patent proprietors. Thus, applicants and proprietors have to decide
- if they want to opt out their existing European patents and
- if they want to use the unitary patent system for granted patents in the future.
Advantages of the new system are the possibility of cross-border litigation and the jurisdiction of one court over multiple countries, the participation of technical judges, the possibility to be represented by patent attorneys (instead of attorneys at law) as well as reduced administrative efforts and comparatively lower costs and reduced translation requirements if protection in a (larger) number of member states is desired.
However, patent proprietors have to be aware of the risk that an adverse decision applies in all participating member states and that they are less flexible than in parallel national actions. Proprietors are also bound to the fees for the life of the patent – that is, the patent cannot be allowed to lapse in certain states to save renewal fees. Further, the language of proceedings at local courts may be disadvantageous and, at least at the beginning, the jurisprudence of the new court, for which so far no case law exists, may be less predictable.