And One Patent to Rule Them All… EU Closes in On Unitary Patent

“The unitary patent will provide automatic unitary patent protection in all 25 participating member states (Spain and Italy are not included) in a move said to be directed at cutting costs for EU companies and, hence, boosting competitiveness. Of course, unitary patents and their enforcement via the unified court is available for non-EU applicants as well and it remains to be seen whether or not competitiveness of EU companies is boosted by the new arrangements.” (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff)

Europe is moving closer to a unitary patent. From law firm Foley & Lardner:

“On December 11, 2012, the European Parliament approved a set of three proposals to create (1) a ‘unitary’ patent valid across 25 EU member states, (2) a simplified language regime for EU patents, and (3) a unified patent court for hearing infringement disputes. This agreement comes after more than 30 years of negotiation.”

Parliamentary approval doesn’t guarantee the fate of the region-wide patent, however. From Freehills Patent Attorneys:

“Concern has been expressed by stakeholders including European patent judges as to fundamental flaws in the Unified Patent Court agreement proposals. The process of ratification may lead to further opportunity to publicise these concerns.”

The new patent is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014. In the meantime, here are three takeaways:

1. Costs should be significantly reduced for Europe-wide protection:

“Today’s media release from the European Parliament stated that ‘a new regime will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan.’ … The release included the following claim from the Commission: … ‘When the new system is up to speed, an EU patent may cost just €4,725, compared to an average of €36,000 needed today.’” (Freehills Patent Attorneys)

2. A single court for resolving disputes will be created:

“According to the current proposal, a specialized [Unified Patent Court (UPC)] will have exclusive jurisdiction over infringement and validity questions involving unitary EU patents, including actions against the decisions of the EPO in refusing a patent. First instance actions will be heard by specialized patent judges in UPC’s first instance court, seated in Paris, with specialized divisions in London for chemical cases and in Munich for mechanical cases. All appeals will be heard in the UPC’s court of appeals in Luxembourg.” (Foley & Lardner)

3. The unitary patent might not be for everyone:

“Applicants should be asking themselves if the unitary benefits of the system outweigh the risk throughout its life of losing single European patent coverage by central revocation compared to the flexibility and partitioned risk of revocation through seeking national patents.”  (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff)

The updates:

Further reading:

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