European Patent System Takes Shape

In late June, European Union officials cleared what appears to be the final hurdle to a unified EU patent and patent litigation system, ending nearly 40 years of negotiations.

The sticking point – which country should host the seat of the Unified Patent Court – was resolved with a compromise that splits the court amongst the three main contenders: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

For your reference, here’s a roundup of legal advisories on the topic [we will continue supplement this list as additional commentary comes in]:

News from Abroad: EU Patent Is Finally Born (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP):

“After a gestation period of nearly 40 years, and amid the Eurozone crisis, the final form of the unitary European Union (EU) patent and unified patent litigation system was brought in existence on 29 June 2012. It was a troubled labour with much wrangling between the parent member states with some countries left out in the cold (Italy and Spain), and others obstinately digging their heels in and demanding concessions (United Kingdom).” Read on>>

European Patent Package (Ladas & Parry LLP):

“In essence, the EU regulation on a unitary patent will provide that for patents prosecuted through the European Patent Office, in addition to the possibility of designating individual countries for protection, it will, at the applicant’s option, be possible to designate a unitary EU patent covering all of the 25 participating countries. The regulation will set out the substantive law provisions as to what constitutes infringement, possible defenses to infringement actions and the property aspects of such a patent.” Read on>>

European Council Agrees on a Unitary Patent and a Unified Patent Court (Ropes & Gray LLP):

Today’s agreement represents a watershed moment that spans over 30 years of negotiation among EU countries. Since 1978, the European Patent Office (EPO) has resided in Munich to examine and grant patents that are nationally validated in countries of the European Union. But patent enforcement has historically only been available through the individual national courts, where a decision from one national court only impacts a company’s rights in that respective country. As such, at present, patent holders enforce their patents on a country-by-country basis, knowing that different countries often reach different conclusions.” Read on>>

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