The European Union is one step closer to implementing a unified patent system. An international agreement for establishing a Unified Patent Court (UPC) was recently executed in Brussels.
The new centralized system allows inventors to apply to the European Patent Organization for an EU unitary patent, which will be valid in all 25 EU member states. The new system is advantageous to inventors because it omits the process of having to validate a patent in individual member states (although this will remain an option for patent applicants).
The Unified Patent Court is an integral part of the new system. It is intended to ensure the uniform applicability of patent law throughout the territories of the signatory countries. For instance, it will avoid the occurrence of multiple court cases with regard to the same patent in different member states as well as prevent contradictory court rulings on the same issues.
The UPC will be a court common to the contracting member states and thus subject to the same obligations as any other national court. The Central Division of the Court of First Instance will be located in Paris with specialized sections in London and Munich.
Now that the agreement has been signed, the ratification process by national parliaments can start. At least 13 member states will have to ratify the agreement for it to enter into force. According to the Council of the European Union, the member nations hope to enable the first registration of a European patent title with unitary effect in spring 2014.