Unified Patents and the Unified Patent Court (UPC): Big Changes in European Patent Protection and Enforcement

by VolpeAndKoenig on February 21, 2013

In December 2012, the European Parliament and Member States reached a long-awaited agreement approving a unitary European patent.  The European Parliament approved two European Union (EU) regulations, one creating a European patent with unitary effect (or “unitary patent”) and the other creating a multinational Unified Patent Court (UPC).  Before it can become effective, at least 13 EU member states need to ratify the package (including UK, Germany, and France).

This event marked significant progress in the creation of unitary patent protection in 25 of the Member States of the EU:

Uniform Patent Protection

The unitary patent will provide uniform patent protection within the territory of the 25 EU Member States (all Member States except Italy and Spain) on the basis of a single application and without further administrative formalities, like validation and translation requirements, in the Member States.  The unitary patent may be filed in English, German, or French and it will be centrally granted by the European Patent Office (EPO).  The national validation step and other translations of the application materials are no longer required.

Simplified Procedure

The unitary patent will allow for a simplified procedure to obtain patent protection at a significantly reduced cost and administrative burden.  The first unitary patents could be granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) as early as April 2014.

Dispute Resolution

The UPC will handle disputes concerning both the unitary patents and current (traditional) European patents.  The UPC has a unified and specialized jurisdiction in patent matters for the participating Member States thereby avoiding unnecessary duplication of litigation cases before the various courts of the Member States.

Thus, it is anticipated that the creation of the unitary patent and the UPC will have a major impact on current and future European IP-strategy.  In addition to reduced costs for obtaining European coverage, the centralized enforcement offered by the UPC will be welcome to patent owners.

Post By: Joseph P. Gushue

This post originally appeared on the Volpe and Koenig IP Law Blog.

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