A single Patent Court covering the whole of Europe?

December 05, 2012

The formation of a Unified Patents Court (UPC) in Europe is a step closer to becoming a reality due to a compromise agreement reached on where the new court will be based. With the UPC a step closer to becoming a reality, so is potentially the creation of a single European Community patent.

Under the current system of European Courts, in the event of a dispute in relation to a granted European patent, separate parallel litigation in the national courts of several member states in which the patent is in force is often necessary. The UPC will be a single specialised patents court that will replace parallel litigation in the national courts. Instead, parties to litigation will hopefully be able to get a swift decision from the UPC for all states where the patent is valid. It will be possible therefore to resolve disputes across Europe through a single court system. The UPC will comprise a Court of First Instance composed of a Central Division, as well as local and regional divisions situated in the member states. An agreement on the UPC had been delayed because agreement could not be reached on the location of the seat of the Central Division. A decision though has finally been reached on this outstanding issue. It was agreed that the Central Division will have its main seat in Paris, with subdivisions located in London for cases in the fields of life sciences, chemistry and human necessities, and in Munich for advanced engineering and resources efficiency. This compromise should hopefully lead the way for a final agreement on the UPC in the near future. With the UPC a step closer to becoming a reality, so is the creation of a single European Community patent (also known as the European Union patent) which has been under consideration since the 1970s. Under the current system, after grant a European patent must be validated in the countries of interest and it is often necessary to file translations. To validate and maintain a European patent in force in all member states can be quite expensive. The European Community patent will allow patent protection to be obtained for 25 Member States (all Member States except Italy and Spain due to disagreements relating to the languages used) on the basis of a single application and without further administrative formalities, such as validation and translation requirements, in the Member States. A European Community patent will have a simpler application process with fewer administrative formalities, and this should therefore considerably reduce the costs for obtaining patent protection in Europe. The UPC will be competent to handle disputes concerning both future European Community patents and current European patents. It is anticipated that the first European Community patent could be granted in April 2014. If you require further information on the UPC or the European Community patent, please get in touch with your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson, or Simon Foster at [email protected].

Swindell & Pearson has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 130 years. With its head office in Derby, the firm also has offices in Stoke, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Sheffield and Burton. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you with any intellectual property requirements please get in touch via [email protected] or by telephone on 01332 367 051.