What is the European patent with unitary effect?

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The Unitary patent is a single European patent with unitary effect in the 26 EU Member States which have engaged in an enhanced cooperation to this effect. The unitary patent is granted by the EPO under the rules and procedures of the European Patent Convention.  In order to obtain a unitary effect, patent holders need to request the unitary effect at the European Patent Office (EPO) within one month of the date of publication of the patent grant in the European Patent Bulletin.

The Unitary patent may be requested from the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. This Agreement was signed by 25 EU Member States and will need to be ratified by at least 13 Member States, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in order to enter into force. This is predicted to take place in the first quarter of 2018 per the EPO.