On 19 February 2013, 24 EU Member States signed an international agreement for establishing a Unified Patent Court (UPC).1 The agreement is the third element of an EU-wide patent package and follows the adoption in December 2012 of two regulations establishing unitary patent protection and the necessary translation arrangements.
The agreement is not currently in force and must be ratified by the national parliaments of at least 13 Member States, including Germany, France and the UK, before coming into effect. It is anticipated that the first European Patents with unitary effect will be granted some time after Spring 2014. These unitary patents will fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC, the Central Division of which will be in Paris with specialist sections in London (life sciences, pharmaceuticals and human necessities) and Munich (mechanical engineering).
In due course, infringement of unitary patents will be determined in local or regional divisions of the UPC with the possibility of a single injunction being granted for all of the UPC signatory states. A centralised revocation action may be commenced, or a declaration of non infringement sought, from the Central Division.
Once established, the UPC will also have jurisdiction over European Patents currently in force, although the agreement does allow proprietors to ‘opt out’ of this exclusive jurisdiction for a limited time so that existing European Patents may continue to be enforced, or their validity challenged, in the national courts.
As a specialist intellectual property law practice, Powell Gilbert is closely monitoring the latest developments in relation to the UPC including the UPC Rules of Procedure, the details of which are being finalised.
Partner Penny Gilbert, commented:
“The unitary patent will offer cheaper protection for inventions in Europe and is to be welcomed after decades of political negotiation to reach this point. In principle, the UPC aims to offer quicker and more efficient enforcement of European patent rights. Much remains to be done before the new court system is ready, but we look forward to working with our clients to plan how best to develop their litigation strategies in the UPC and national court systems.”
Please do get in touch with us if you have any queries about the UPC or its implications on existing European Patents.
Mr Tim Powell
T: 020 3040 8030 | email: email@example.com
Dr Penny Gilbert
T: 020 3040 8020 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr David Lancaster
T: 020 3040 8013 | email: email@example.com