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The French part of a European patent has effect throughout France. But the unitary effect patent will not confer the same geographical protection until certain communities have amended their legislation.

The territory of France is composed of 18 administrative regions:


  • 13 metropolitan regions (i.e. the European territory of France or "metropolitan France");
  • 5 overseas departments and regions (Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, and Guyana),

as well as overseas collectivities (New Caledonia (which has a special status and is considered a sui generis community), French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Saint Martin, Wallis and Futuna and Saint Barthélemy).



The French part of a European patent applies to the whole territory of France.

What about the unitary effect patent which will soon come into force?

Territorial scope of the European patent with unitary effect

A "European patent with unitary effect" is a European patent, granted in accordance with the provisions of the European Patent Convention, which benefits from unitary effect under European Union (EU) Regulations n°1257/2012 and n°1260/2012 of 17 December 2012. The unitary patent thus provides uniform protection in the participating Member States (currently 17, including France).

The unitary patent will necessarily take effect in the territory of France where EU law applies, i.e. metropolitan France, the 5 overseas departments and regions, and Saint-Martin.

In addition, when the unitary patent comes into force, a new Article L. 811-2-3 will be inserted in the Intellectual Property Code. This article provides that the patent with unitary effect will apply to the following overseas collectivities: Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Wallis and Futuna and Saint-Barthélemy.

The unitary patent will then have effect throughout the territory of France, except in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

These two Collectivities are indeed free to adopt or not the rules which apply to them as regards intellectual property.

However, New Caledonia and French Polynesia have the option of amending their intellectual property statutes to allow the patent with unitary effect to apply.

By default, as far as France is concerned, a European patent with unitary effect will not provide the same territorial protection as the French part of a European patent.

Editors: Thierry CAEN, Nawhel GUILLAUMEY

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