Unitary system of patent protection as an element of innovation policy of the European Union

  • K.Yu. Ivanova
Keywords: innovation, innovation activities, intellectual property, patent, patent rights, principle of territoriality, extraterritoriality, Unitary patent protection system of the EU.


The article analyzes the process of establishing a unitary system of patent protection in the European Union as an alternative to national and regional systems and its importance for enhancing the innovation potential and economic development of the EU. It examines the preconditions for the transition from national patents to regional (and subsequently unitary) patents, which are based on the intention of the EU Member States to overcome the territorial principle of patent rights by extending the patent owner’s exclusive rights beyond the territorial borders of one state.
It is noted that the transformation of the economy into an innovative one, in which a key role is assigned to intellectual property rights (as a precondition for innovation), has actualized the issue of effective intellectual property legal protection, in particular, concerning patent rights. Since 1997, the European Commission has been highlighting the importance of patents as one of the tools available for protecting innovation and the need to reform the European patent system to increase Europe’s innovation potential and competitiveness. Subsequent decisions of the EU Council were taken to fulfill this task, resulting in the introduction of a unitary system, which includes the European Patent with Unitary Effect (the Unitary Patent) and the Unified Patent Court, as of June 1, 2023. As a result, inventors can obtain unitary patent protection based on the Unitary Patent in all EU Member States participating in the enhanced cooperation mechanism.
It is concluded that the unitary patent protection system extends the territoriality principle beyond the national borders of the State within the EU borders, but does not destroy the basic principles of intellectual property rights. In contrast, the article examines the US case law, which demonstrates its own approaches to understanding the principle of territoriality and the presumption against extraterritoriality of patent rights, allowing in certain cases the US patent holder to extend its monopoly to foreign markets.