The Steps to get a unitary patent protection?
This is a two steps procedure:
1/ First apply for a EP patent with the EPO
The filing procedure , examination and grant formalities are similar in any way to those of a regular EP patent.
Any person may file a patent application, in any language, provided that a translation into one of the three official languages of the EPO (french, german or english) is filed within two months of the date of filing. The language of the translation will be the language of the proceedings. The patent is published in the language of the proceedings and the claims are translated into the two other official languages.
2/Then, upon grant of the EP patent: the request for the unitary effect
Unitary patent protection will only be available for EP patent granted on or after the date of entry into force of the UPC Agreement (A. 18(6) of Reg. (EU) N° 1257/2012, and having the same set of claims in respect of all the participating Member States.
The patent proprietor shall apply with the EPO for the unitary protection within one month from the publication of the mention of grant of the EP patent in the European Patent Bulletin . The request shall be filed in the language of proceedings of the EP patent (A.9(g) of Reg. (EU) 1257/2012).
The unitary effect will be indicated in the Register for unitary patent protection, administered by the EPO.
The EPO is currently developing machine translations of patent specifications into all of the official languages of the Union. Therefore, no further translations of the EP patent will be required from the patent proprietor after the end of the transitional period of 6 years (up to 12 years), except in the event of a dispute.
During the transitional period, if the patent is in english, the specification must be translated into any other official language of the Union; if however the patent is in french or german, it shall be translated into english.
The EPO will also administer a compensation scheme for the reimbursement of translation costs for some applicants filing the EP application in one of the official languages of the Union that is not an official language of the EPO. Applicants eligible for the compensation scheme include SMEs, non-profit organisations, universities, individual having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State.
Renewals in respect of the years following the year in which the mention of the grant is published in the European Bulletin will have to be paid with the EPO. There will be a 6 months period for late payment of the renewal and corresponding additional fees.
Can software be patented under the new rules? Will the rules governing patent ability for software change?
No. The unitary patent package will not change the rules on granting a patent, but only the geographic extent of the legal protection that a patent affords, once it has been granted.
The fees for the Unitary Patent are yet to be decided. The criteria for setting the fees can be found at Article 12 of the Unitary Patent regulation. The process will need to take into account administration costs, the size of the market and the level of fees paid for current European bundle patents.
According to the European Parliament, today, a European patent issued by EPO providing protection in the 27 EU Member States can cost up to €36,000, including up to €23,000 in translation fees alone. According to the European Commission, the new unitary patent will cost a minimum of €4,725, when the new rules are fully implemented, up to a maximum of €6,425. The costs for translation will range from €680 to €2,380.