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In 2012 Member States and the European Parliament agreed on the "patent package" - a legislative initiative consisting of two...

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Unitary Patent

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The Unitary Patent package is on hold pending Brexit negotiations and a referral to the German Constitutional Court.  It may not be able to continue in its present form. 

The good news is that the EPO increased its output of granted patents by 40% in 2016 over the year before (see here). 

Users of the existing system are now familiar with the cost benefits of the London Agreement.  Germany, UK, France and the Netherlands (London Agreement states) are popular validation states. Italy and Spain require full translation but the translation costs have fallen sharply and these states are popular.  Validations generally have increased 3% over the year before. Please ask us for a cost estimate if you are looking for value-for-money in validating a European patent across a wide number of states.

Latest UPC Rules of Procedure (Published March 2017)

The patent package implements enhanced cooperation between 25 Member States (all Member States except Italy and Spain).

Following the adoption of the two Regulations in December 2012, the contracting Member States will proceed with the signature and ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court - the third and last component of the "patent package" setting up a single and specialised patent jurisdiction.

Once the Agreement and the Regulations enter into force, it will be possible to obtain a European patent with unitary effect - a legal title ensuring uniform protection for an invention across 25 Member States on a one-stop shop basis, providing huge cost advantages and reducing administrative burdens.

On 19 February 2013 the representatives of 24 EU governments met in Brussels to sign the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement  (Poland reconsidered its position and declined to sign) and since then, Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal have ratified.  Only five more ratifications are required to bring the system into effect, including the UK and Germany.  It will take effect four months after the necessary thirteen countries including UK and Germany have ratified.  The UK parliament has authorised ratification, however the UK will not proceed until its domestic law has been further amended by statutory instrument, and that work is in progress.  It is understood that Germany is proposing to ratify when the Unitary Patent Court is ready for operation.  This is not expected to be until 2016 at the earliest.

Spain and Italy declared their intentions to stay out of the new system and filed unsuccessful challenges at the CJEU.  Since then the Italian Ministry of  State has written to the Commission and to the EU Presidency announcing Italy's decision to join the scheme.

The pros and cons of electing for unitary effect and of opting existing European patents out of the UPC are set out in a book by Maucher Jenkins Partner, Hugh Dunlop: European Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, 2nd Ed. Available from CIPA:

Latest News Updates

UK Government moves closer to Unified Patent Court ratification (12/16)

UK Government signals intent to ratify UPC before leaving the EU (11/16)

Business as usual for Jenkins as UK decides to commence negotiation for exit from the EU (6/16)

Key Documents

Please see below for links to key websites and documents, starting with the most recent:

Counsel's Opinion on Effect of Brexit on UPC 12 Sept 2016

The Patents (European Patent with Unitary Effect and Unified Patent Court) Order 2016

Unified Patent Court Fees and Recoverable Costs

Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application

Explanatory memorandum on the draft proposal for rules on the European Patent Litigation Certificate and other appropriate qualifications

Draft proposal for rules on the European Patent Litigation Certificate and other appropriate qualifications

UPC Rule changes in the 18th Draft include relaxation of some tight deadlines

18th Draft Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court

Proposed Unitary Patent Renewal Fees

Judgement: Court of the European Union - 5 May 2015 Case C-147/13

Rules 1-24 relating to unitary patent protection as approved in principle at the Select Committee’s 11th meeting held in Munich on 9 December 2014

CIPA Response to the IPO's Technical Review and Call for Evidence on Secondary Legislation Implementing the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and EU Regulations Establishing the Unitary Patent, 5 September 2014 

Court of Justice of the European Union; Press release No 47/13. Luxembourg, 16 April 2013 Joined Cases C-274/11 and C-295/11; Spain and Italy v Council

Judgement: Court of the European Union - 16 April 2013.                                                              Joined Cases C-274/11 and C-295/11
By their applications, the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of Italy sought annulment of Council Decision 2011/167/EU of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (OJ 2011 L 76, p. 53) (‘the contested decision').

Further actions brought by the Kingdom of Spain.
Case C-146/13: Spain v European Parliament and Council of the European Union 
Case C-147/13: Spain v Council of the European Union

Minutes of the Signing of the Agreement on a Unified Patent, 19 February 2013

Corrigenda to Agreement, 29 January 2013

Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, 11 January 2013

European Commission: Unitary Patent - Ratification Process 

Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection.

Council regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements.