On 3 June 2016 Bulgaria became the 10th country to ratify the Unitary Patent Convention (UPC) Agreement.
The other countries so far are Finland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, France and Austria.
The unitary patent system requires 13 countries to ratify, including the UK, France and Germany. So apart from the UK and Germany, only one more country is required to make a ratification order for the Unitary Patent Convention (UPC) Agreement to come into force.
It is expected that the unitary patent system will come into force in Spring 2017.
According to the EPO:
The Regulation on the unitary patent provides that the participating member states will entrust the following tasks to the EPO:
Receiving and examining requests for unitary effect
Registering unitary effect
Publishing translations during the transitional period
Setting up and maintaining a new “Register for unitary patent protection”
– containing entries on assignment, transfer, lapse, licensing, limitation or revocation of unitary patents
Collecting annual fees for unitary patents
Distributing part of the annual fees to the participating Member States
Administering a compensation scheme
– reimbursement of translation costs (up to a ceiling) for certain applicants filing applications in an official language of the European Union other than English, French or German