European Unitary Patent

A significant break through was made towards a single European Patent. EU has decided that Paris will host a central European Patent Court to determine issues of infringement and validity. The EPO will grant the unified patent for 25 countries.

When implemented, the unitary European Patent process would avoid the current requirements to validate a patent in each country under the European Patent Convention establishing the European Patent Office and covering the 38 signatories. The process would also reduce translation requirements to just English, German and French. The new European Patent Court would also avoid the need and potential contradictory results of bringing patent infringement proceedings in each member country.

Italy and Spain are not participating in the process due to the lack of Italian and Spanish in the selected languages. Albania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, San Marino, Turkey are members of the current European Patent Convention but as non-EU members, are not part of the planned unitary European patent system.

While the central division will be in Paris, branch divisions specializing in life sciences and pharmaceutical cases will be in London and Munich will host a branch division specializing in mechanical engineering.

The Council of the European Union announced the planned next steps:

The European Parliament will vote on the unitary patent “package” in July 2012. The Council will adopt the two regulations shortly thereafter.

The member states will sign the Unified Patent Court agreement in the second half of 2012. After it is ratified by a sufficient number of member states (at least 13), it will enter into force. This is expected to happen in early 2014. The two regulations will enter into force at the same time.