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European Unitary Patent

DownloadThe European Unitary Patent System (UPs), which initiated in the 70s, begins gradually to affect patent strategies of companies on European market due to its significant improvement of legal certainty, efficiency and the foreseeable costs reduction. Based on a Unitary Patent Regulation, a Translation Arrangements Regulation and the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, the UPs will enter into force, once it has been ratified in 13 EU Member States including France, Germany and the United Kingdom or on 1 January 2014.

Italy and Spain have decided not to be on board, but still have the chance to join in the future. UPs will coexist with national patents and the European Patent. However, inventors can file the application under the existing EPO language regime based on English, German or French, and then request a post-grant transformation of the EP into a UP within one month after grant the applicant. The patentability requirements of UPs are as same as EP, but do not require national validation. Costs of UP application (procedural and translation costs, renewal fees) would drop to around 5, 000 EURO, while a EP can costs nearly 30,000 EURO.

For the enforcement of UP rights the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of infringement suits, licensing matters, requests for preliminary injunctions, declarations of non-infringement and actions or counterclaims for revocation. The infringement decisions of the UPC will have unitary effect for all countries having ratified the respective UPC-agreement. Revocation of the unitary patent results in invalidation in the entire European Union.

UPC will have a first instance with Local Divisions in the participating Member States, Regional Divisions for a group of Member States and a Central Division located in Paris with branches in Munich (for mechanical engineering) and London (for chemistry and pharmacy). The Local Divisions in Germany will be in Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Hamburg and Munich. The second instance with a common Court of Appeal is located in Luxembourg. The language of court proceedings is the domestic language of the forum or the language of the patent. Under the consideration of experience of judges in the fields of patent and lower costs of court and attorney in Germany, it is important for inventors or companies involved in European infringement process to be update you application and litigation strategy and be prepared for the coming UPs.

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