Patents

When are we likely to see the grant of the first European Unitary Patent?

November 14, 2013

The European Commission's spring 2014 target date for the grant of the first Unitary Patent and the opening of the Unified Patent Court will not be met. It is in fact unlikely that we will see the grant of the first Unitary Patent until at least early 2016.

By Simon Foster on Thursday 11th November 2013.

The European Commission's spring 2014 target date for the grant of the first Unitary Patent and the opening of the Unified Patent Court will not be met. The chair and vice-chair of the preparatory committee has confirmed that the new target date is now early 2015. In order to meet this date, the agreement on the Unified Patent Court (which was signed by 25 EU Member States on 19 February 2013) has to be ratified by thirteen EU member states, which must include the UK, France and Germany. Notably, on 7th August 2013 Austria became the first member state to ratify the agreement on the Unified Patent Court. Regarding the three mandatory ratification countries, the UK’s IP Bill is in the House of Commons where it is currently awaiting a date for its second reading. UK ratification is not expected until early 2015. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs introduced a bill under the procedure accélérée (expedited procedure) before the Senate authorizing the ratification of the agreement on the Unified Patent Court. The process of ratifying the agreement in Germany is likely to be delayed for a while following the federal election, which took place on 22nd September 2013. Interestingly, it has been reported that Denmark will decide whether to ratify the agreement on the Unified Patent Court by referendum on 25th May 2014. Such a public vote adds a degree of uncertainty to the outcome. In view of the above, it would appear unlikely that even the Commission’s target date of early 2015 will be met. It is in fact unlikely that we will see the grant of the first Unitary Patent until at least early 2016. If you have any questions concerning the Unitary Patent, please get in touch with your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson Ltd or Simon Foster at [email protected]

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