Does the unitary patent replace the existing systems of patent protection?

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No. The unitary patent will co-exist with national patents and with classic European patents (i.e. without unitary effect) as a third option for companies or inventors seeking patent protection in Europe. Patent applicants remain free to choose between national patents, classical European patents and unitary patents. They can also use a combination, such as:

  • a unitary patent for the Member States participating in the unitary patent cooperation, together with national patents covering the member states which did not take part in this cooperation;
  • a unitary patent for the Member States participating in the unitary patent cooperation; together with a classic European patent taking effect in one or more Contracting States to the European Patent Convention which do not participate in the cooperation, such as Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Iceland, etc.