A milestone for the Unitary Patent

02 December 2016 - No comments »

epo_battistelli_24250_rgb-648x432The United Kingdom has announced its intention to ratify the Unified Patent Court agreement. This is the exciting news recently given by UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, and it has been met with positive responses by the European Commission, the other Member States and the user community. I strongly welcome this development as a key milestone in Europe’s quest to put into operation a new form of patent protection in Europe.

Right from the outset, the additional advantages of the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court have been clear. With a single patent valid in up to 26 EU Member States, the UP is set to reduce the administrative burden on applicants everywhere. Lower post grant costs will ensure significant savings for our businesses and the unified patent court will introduce a uniform litigation system and thus ensure greater legal certainty. And all the while, applicants will still benefit from the rigorous quality standards of the EPO, as the administering organisation for the unitary patent.

Given these advantages, we have remained optimistic throughout the ratification process that Member States would continue to ratify the agreement. Even after Brexit earlier this year, it was hoped that the benefits of the UPP and UPC would ensure that Member States would continue to work towards ratification. My interactions with many stakeholders over the last few months have revealed a collective will to find a solution to any impasse and that this would be reflected by national governments.  After all, it is a patent for our inventors, for our businesses and industry, and for our economy, indeed, for patent applicants from across the world. The participation of the UK will now consolidate the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court as attractive propositions for future patent holders.

Against this backdrop the EPO has worked to ensure that it is ready to start efficiently administering the unitary patent. It was almost exactly one year ago that the Select Committee formalised a complete secondary legal framework comprising the implementing rules, budgetary and financial rules, and the level of the renewal fees. This ensured that the EPO has for some time been legally, technically and operationally ready to deliver the first unitary patent.

The long awaited Unitary Patent Package is now on the verge of becoming operational. The ratification procedures are well advanced in Italy, Slovenia and Lithuania. It is now hoped that the outstanding ratifications of the UPC Agreement by the UK and Germany, which are required for the entry into force, are achieved as soon as possible so that we might see the first unitary patent by the end of 2017. There have, of course, been many milestones on this quite extraordinary journey. But, with the recent announcement by the UK, there is every possibility that it will indeed be the case. The next major development in patent protection in Europe is firmly back on track and has never been closer.

Benoît Battistelli


  • Share this post:

Older posts

Providing the latest online services

This week I’m reporting back from our most recent Online Services User Day in Monaco. The event last Thursday and Friday saw over 120 attendees come from across Europe to Monaco to obtain the latest information on our online services and learn about the most recent developments at the EPO. This was in fact the […]

Refining the EPO’s Patent Information Strategy

This week in Madrid, the EPO held a conference to discuss the latest developments in a field that is widely acknowledged for making one of the most valuable contributions to intellectual property systems the world over; patent information. Over the years, the EPO’s Patent Information Conference has grown into the largest of its kind in […]

The importance of patents to the European economy

Today the EPO and EUIPO published their latest study on the value of Intellectual Property Intensive (IPR) industries. It is the second such joint report carried out that assesses the value of industries that intensively use patents, copyright and trademarks, among others. The results show that once again, IPR intensive industries are playing a defining role […]

A stronger and more sustainable Office

The EPO is an organisation that has always strived to improve its standards: greater legal robustness of its patents, higher quality services, more useful patent information, more intensive international cooperation. These are just a few of the areas into which we have channelled our efforts in order to deliver benefits for our users everywhere and […]

The EPO at the WIPO General Assemblies

Earlier this week, I reflected on our recent meeting with SIPO and how close cooperation with other patent offices can yield initiatives and projects that deliver tangible results for our users. For the last few days, myself and a delegation from the EPO have been at the WIPO General Assemblies in Geneva where we set […]

The Importance of EPO-SIPO Cooperation

Every year, the EPO holds meetings with user associations from around the world and last week, we were looking west towards our transatlantic partners. As I mentioned in my last blog on that subject (see below post), engaging in this dialogue helps us to gather vital feedback from users and to better understand their needs. In […]

Meeting User Expectations

Over the course of the last ten days, myself and other delegates from the EPO have embarked on an ambitious agenda of meetings with our users from around the world. Feedback from those attending the events, from Manhattan to Milan to Munich, has revealed that we are now in a phase where users’ expectations and […]

The Expansion of Early Certainty

Over the years the EPO has built its reputation upon quality, providing our users with legally robust intellectual property protection. But, as with any good service, good products need to be delivered on time. This is particularly so for our users, as innovators and investors look for certainty at an early stage in the process. […]

The future of the Unitary Patent package

Last 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 […]