European ministers endorsed a legal package to create a Unitary Patent which would provide uniform protection in twenty five (25) European countries. The costs of obtaining a European Unitary patent are expected to be a fraction of the current European patent. Unitary patents should be secured for as low as € 2,500 versus € 32,000 for an EPO filing.
In conjunction with the Unitary patent a Unified Patent Court is in development within the 25 states (except Italy and Spain). Some features of the Unitary patent and its associated Court:
- Granted by EPO upon opt-in by the patent owner.
- Unified Patent Court will have exclusive jurisdiction relating to Unitary Patents.
- Seven (7) years after the Unitary Patent is enabled (transitional period), the Unified Patent Court will take over exclusive jurisdiction of all disputes over European patents. This effectively will retire national courts from their patent infringement jurisdiction.
- The Unified Patent Court will have three tiers: (1) Court of First Instance; (2) a Court of Appeal; and (3) a Registry. The Court of First Instance will have three types:
1) Local divisions: set upon in members states upon request.
2) Regional divisions: a court shared by two or more member states.
3) A central division: will help focus on specializations of the court. Paris will focus on physics, electricity and electronics. London will have specialization in pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical and metallurgical patents. Munich will specialize in mechanical engineering patents.
- The Court of Appeal as well as the Registry will have their seat in Luxembourg.
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