The European Parliament recently adopted a much-anticipated uniform patent system for Europe. Although there are still a few kinks to work out, the new centralized system is good news for patent applicants and owners.
Under the new system, inventors will be able to apply to the European Patent Organization for an EU unitary patent valid in all 25 EU member states. The new system omits the process of having to validate a patent in individual member states (although this will remain an option for patent applicants). Under the EU unitary patent system, applications must be submitted in English, German or French, or accompanied by a translation. Patents will be made available in the same languages.
Litigation of uniform patents will take place in the Unified Patent Court. A decision issued by the court system regarding infringement or validity will be recognized in all 25 member states. The new enforcement system has been the most controversial aspect of the unitary patent plan, and it will likely be fine tuned as the system moves towards implementation.
Although fees have not yet been established, patent holders can expect to receive a cost-savings, particularly because renewal fees will no longer be required in each individual country. According to the European Parliament, the new uniform system will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%.
The new system must still be ratified by at least 13 member states, including the UK, France and Germany, and is expected to be up and running by early 2014. We will continue to track its progress and provide updates as they become available.