13 May 2015 - No comments »
Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed legal challenges against the Unitary Patent Package. The two Regulations creating the new Unitary Patent and laying down its language regime are not in conflict with European Union law. That is the clear and decisive ruling from the Court of Justice. It confirms the soundness of the EPO legal framework, which provides all conditions and safeguards to ensure the proper administration of the Unitary Patent.
For myself, for the EPO and for innovation in Europe, these decisions are unequivocally welcome. The dismissal of these challenges by the Court has given all those involved with the project a green light to continue with what we have sought to achieve from the outset; a Unitary Patent that reduces both administrative burden and costs for businesses across Europe while increasing legal certainty.
It is also a decision that resonates loudly not just here in Europe but across the world. Our international partners can be reassured about the willingness of Europe to reform itself and improve its environment to support innovation based on solid legal foundations.
On the same day the decision was published, I was delighted to welcome a delegation from the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee to the EPO headquarters in Munich, headed by its Chairman, Pavel Svoboda. We had a fruitful exchange on the current state of the final phase of preparations for UPP. I also met in Brussels the following day with Commissioner Bienkowska in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. The Commission is, like the European Parliament, an essential partner in pushing forward UPP.
Unitary Patent Protection is a project for the businesses, innovators and people of Europe. That’s why last week I also had a meeting with representatives of BusinessEurope and Eurochambres in order to better understand the hopes and concerns of those who will be affected directly by the Unitary Patent.
In all these meetings we were able to discuss the tangible progress that is being made in the establishment of the Unitary Patent and of the Unified Patent Court. I have openly expressed my hope that the Unitary Patent Package will come into operation in the course of 2016 and I remain optimistic about this on the grounds of current progress. Based on proposals from the EPO, work undertaken by the Select Committee has progressed well with the adoption of a comprehensive set of implementing rules which will enable the EPO to successfully carry out the new tasks entrusted to it by Member States.
The Select Committee will now take a decision on the level of the renewal fees, on the basis of a proposal made by the EPO. It is a sensitive issue but from the very beginning I have been convinced that our first priority must be a Unitary Patent which is attractive to business.
Having carefully listened to all comments and reactions generated by our first proposal, the EPO published on 7 May a new proposal based on an average from the countries where the current European Patent is most registered: either a ‘true Top Four’ for all patent holders, or a ‘true Top Five’ with reduced tariffs for SMEs.
A political decision is also to be taken on facilitated access for SMEs to efficient patent protection in Europe, as has been the case in the US for decades and in some European countries more recently. I am aware that it is a controversial issue among Member States and that is why the EPO is proposing two options. But above all, these proposals will help to achieve a significant saving for businesses seeking Unitary Patent Protection and are 70% lower than the current cost of a European patent in the 25 Member States.