The future of the Unitary Patent package

11 July 2016 - No comments »

EPO President Benoît BattistelliLast week I spoke at a major conference hosted by the EPO in our Munich headquarters, convened to discuss the state of implementation of the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court. Bringing together more than 200 participants from all over Europe, among them representatives of government authorities, business and academia as well as lawyers and patent attorneys, the focus soon shifted towards a discussion about the future of the Unitary Patent package after the recent referendum in the UK.

It is clear that political decisions on the future of the Unitary Patent package will take some time but it was equally evident that one sentiment prevailed among the conference participants: ways have to be found for the Unitary Patent package to go ahead and to enter into operation as soon as possible. There is hope that political leaders will listen to the pleas of the user community to go ahead with the Unitary Patent package in one way or another. Indeed at a time of economic challenges and significant budgetary constraints for companies, businesses should not be denied the economic advantages and cost savings offered by the Unitary Patent package.

Presentations at the conference on the state of implementation also highlighted that the UPC is ready to begin operating once the necessary ratifications of the UPC Agreement are obtained. Panel discussions among business representatives confirmed that users are by and large happy with the envisaged implementation, including renewal fees the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court and other decisions of the UPC Preparatory Committee. A panel discussion among renowned patent judges has, in addition, shown that future UPC judges will be well prepared for the challenges and that proceedings can be expected to be handled in the most efficient way.

But how to proceed with the Unitary Patent package? In the best case scenario, the UK could go ahead as soon as possible with the ratification of the UPC Agreement. This would allow the UK afterwards, in its EU exit negotiations, to obtain its continuous participation both in the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent.  With the UK having brought the system into operation by ratification and having participated in the system from the beginning, it is possible that Member States may allow the continued participation of the UK , even after the ‘Brexit’ takes effect.

There are of course other scenarios; as more and more ratifications occur, Member States will consider how to ensure the timely delivery of the UP-UPC, even if that regrettably means going ahead without the UK. There seems to be a clear feeling in the international user community that the system would remain sufficiently attractive for many. It would be regrettable to leave out a major patent country such as the UK, a country that can help to shape the future of the system in a business and user-friendly approach. But it is entirely up to the UK authorities to determine whether they want to participate in the Unified Patent Court and in the Unitary Patent or not.

Whatever decisions are taken at political level it can be expected that the system will go ahead. Work has advanced much too far and has generated too much positive momentum to be suddenly put on hold now. In any event, the EPO stands ready not only to register the first Unitary Patents, but also to assist as much as possible in finding appropriate solutions in the interest of our user community and our Contracting States.

Benoît Battistelli

  • Share this post:

Older posts

EPO Boards of Appeal: a landmark reform

At the meeting of the Administrative Council last week, the EPO’s Member States adopted a proposal from the Office for reform of the Boards of Appeal, one of the most significant decisions in the history of our Organisation. Indeed, reform of the Boards of Appeal has been a topic on the table for some time […]

Ten Years of Annual Bilateral Cooperation Meetings

2016 is an important year for bilateral cooperation; it is the tenth year in which we have held an annual bilateral cooperation meeting, since the first of its kind was held in 2007 in Vilnius, Lithuania. I was therefore delighted last week to be in Tirana, Albania, for our annual meeting with the EPO’s member […]

EIA 2016: A symbol of vibrant innovation

Last week in Portugal, the EPO held the 11th edition of its European Inventor Award in front of a packed audience and media from across the world at the MEO arena in Lisbon. In the presence of Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Commissioner Carlos Moedas, the winners in each of the categories were finally revealed. […]

Reinforcing Gains in Quality

In every annual survey published by Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) magazine since 2010, the EPO has ranked first among the world’s IP5 offices for the quality of both its patents and services. I am delighted to report that this year’s survey, announced recently, has reconfirmed our position as a global leader in quality and marks […]

The Benefits of Validation

Last week I was delighted to represent the EPO at the first Casablanca IP week, organised under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy and the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC). The event included various conferences, round tables and […]


We forget sometimes that the world of patents can appear complex and daunting to those who do not have the time or resources to dedicate to patent searching or to analysing patent information. Happily, here in Europe, innovators can prosper from a network of professional centres that help them to maximise the impact of their […]

Assessing Harmonisation on World Intellectual Property Day

Almost 15 years ago to the day, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) launched an event with the aim of increasing understanding of IP and its role. Celebrated every 26 April, it is an important vehicle for raising awareness of patents, copyright, trademarks and industrial designs. This year, the EPO had the pleasure of participating […]

Enhancing Professional Training

This week I had the pleasure to welcome at the EPO a delegation from the institute of professional representatives (epi) in order to discuss recent progress and results, and also to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. Our meeting on Tuesday was the latest in our ‘Partnership for Quality’ dialogue, a process of continuous exchange with our […]

The EPO and its Member States: Supporting Innovation Together

Last week, I was in London to discuss a range of matters with Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the UK Government Minister for Intellectual Property. Since her appointment in May 2015, we have always enjoyed a constructive relationship and last week’s discussions were equally productive. On the agenda were also the reforms that the EPO has put in […]