03/04/19

Unitary Patents & Unified Patent Court: The Start of a new Epoch in the European Patent System?


Unitary Patents & Unified Patent Court: The Start of a new Epoch in the European Patent System?

Markus Nolff

Since signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957, creating the European Economic Community, a community patent was thought to be necessary to further the goal of forming and furthering a single, common market. After various failed attempts within the last fifty years, the so-called “unitary patent” is on the brink of becoming reality. The unitary patent will be of a unitary character, granted and administered centrally at the European Patent Office, with unitary effect throughout almost the entire European Union. Start of availability of the unitary patent is linked to the establishment of a Unified Patent Court which will have exclusive judicial competence regarding any action, including infringement and revocation, concerning the unitary patent. The unitary patent in combination with the Unified Patent Court is expected to considerable ease the effort and cost for acquisition, maintenance, and enforcement of patent protection, thereby further incentivizing research and development. However, enactment has been held up by a pending constitutional complaint before the German Federal Constitutional Court and is now also complicated by the upcoming Brexit. It is currently unclear whether and when the relevant treaty might enter into force.

100 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 546(2018)

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