European Council Agrees On A Unitary Patent And A Unified Patent Court

Author:Ms Anita Varma, Gene W. Lee, Edward J. Kelly, Charles Larsen and Richard T. McCaulley, Jr.
Profession:Ropes & Gray LLP

The European Council met in Brussels on June 28-29, 2012, and agreed to establish an EU Unitary Patent together with an EU Unified Patent Court. The agreement by the Council set the location of the Central Division within Paris, with specialized courts in London and Munich. Final approval by the European Parliament is expected this summer.

The heads of state for member states of the European Union agreed to seat the Central Division of the Unified Patent Court in Paris, London and Munich London will hear cases related to "human necessities," including chemistry, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices Munich will hear cases related to mechanical engineering A court of second instance, an appeals court, will be established in Luxembourg Today's agreement represents a watershed moment that spans over 30 years of negotiation among EU countries. Since 1978, the European Patent Office (EPO) has resided in Munich to examine and grant patents that are nationally validated in countries of the European Union. But patent enforcement has historically only been available through the individual national courts, where a decision from one national court only impacts a company's rights in that respective country. As such, at present, patent holders enforce their patents on a country-by-country basis, knowing that different countries often reach different conclusions. Patent protection in Europe has thus been viewed by U.S. and Asian companies as more expensive with lower value-add than the U.S. system, and many U.S. businesses have...

To continue reading