The Unitary Patent is a new type of European patent, which will cover the 24 Member States that have currently signed up for the enhanced cooperation involved. It is not an EU -wide patent - it proved politically impossible to achieve agreement at EU-level. Instead, it was created as a form of enhanced cooperation between the Member States that wanted it. However, since all except Poland, Spain and Croatia will participate (and Croatia may possibly join at a later stage), it is as a practical matter virtually identical in scope and effect to an EU right, such as the EU Trademark. The prosecution will be carried out by the EPO as for traditional European patents. Within one month after grant, the applicant can decide to have his European patent converted into a Unitary Patent. The patent holder will not need to validate it at a national level anymore and will also not have to pay renewal fees at a national level anymore but rather will have to pay a single renewal fee to the EPO.
By the decision of the President of the EPO of 22 December 2021, from the start of the Sunrise Period, the EPO gives applicants the right to request that the issuance of the decision to grant a European patent be delayed so that the mention of the grant is not published in the European Patent Bulletin until on or immediately after the date of entry into force of the UPC Agreement, thereby allowing the registration of unitary effect for that European patent. This request can only be made for European patent applications in respect of which the applicant has been informed of the text intended for grant by a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC but not yet approved that text.