obvIPat - Obviously Patentable

The blog for inventors, in-house counsel, & entrepreneurs.

Birth of a Unitary EU Patent?

by Orlando Lopez

On July 29, 2012, the European Council reached agreement on that last outstanding issue in the way to a unified EU patent system. In a typical European compromise, the European Council agreed on the location of the Central division of the European United Patent Court. The Central division of the European United Patent Court will be headquartered in Paris with technical clusters in London (for chemistry, including the life sciences) and in Munich (for mechanical engineering) (Agreement on Central Court Paves Way for Unitary EU Patent System). The agreement paves the way for a unified EU patent which will not have to be validated in every one of the member states (excluding Italy and Spain). The European Council member states still have to ratify the Unified Patent Court agreement, which should happen by the end of 2012.

The unified EU patent, resulting from the July 29, 2012 agreement, will make it less expensive to obtain patent protection in the 25 EU members that have agreed to participate in the unified EU patent. Assuming ratification, the first unified EU patent should appear sometime in 2014.

In terms of litigation, the European Patent Court has, in addition to the Central division, regional and local divisions. The details of the relationship between the regional courts and the Central division are still forthcoming. Also forthcoming are details on how or whether the European Patent Court will consider bifurcation, the practice of separating infringement and invalidity proceedings, the practice used in the German courts.

We will keep you updated on the European Patent Court. The prospect of reduced cost European patent protection is exciting. However, if you miss validation, you can always go to Italy and Spain.

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