Legal Alerts / 23 Jul 2012

Legal Alert – Major Step towards Unitary Patent as the EU Member States Reach an Agreement on the Seat of the Unified Patent Court: Central Division to Paris and Specialised Clusters to London and Munich

On 29 June 2012 the member states of the EU reached a significant agreement towards the adoption of the unitary patent. The compromise agreement sets the Central Division of the future Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Paris and two clusters in Munich and London.

The long-lasting efforts of creating a unitary patent protection system took a leap forward as this decision was reached. For several years, an objective of the EU has been to create a European-wide patent system. With the decision on the location of the court the plan for a one-stop shop for obtaining a patent having immediate effect in the EU instead of protection in separate states, combined with a single specialised patent court, is a lot closer.

All of the member states, excluding Italy and Spain, participate in the process of obtaining a unitary patent that will allow patent protection within the member states on the basis of a single application. No further formalities will be required, such as validation and translation. Disputes regarding the future unitary patents will be settled in a single court action in the UPC instead of parallel legal proceedings in the member states. The UPC will have exclusive jurisdiction in infringement and revocation proceedings involving both European patents and future unitary patents.

The object of the reform is to simplify patent application process and reduce the costs of patent protection. The new system will also increase the possibilities for inventors and companies within the EU as the markets of the 25 participating states comprise a market of 400 million customers. The reform is also planned to increase Europe’s competitiveness especially in relation to patent giants US and China.

The UPC will be set up on the basis of an international treaty and administered by the European Patent Office (EPO). The first unitary patent might be registered as soon as in 2014 and the future unitary patents will be available in all official languages of the EU.

The European Parliament was supposed to vote on the “patent package” in July 2012, but as the European Council suggested changes to the draft regulation, the parliament agreed to resume the discussion in September.


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