We are happy to report that changes may be underway at the European Patent Office which will make life for companies and individuals with interest in obtaining patents in Europe.
The proposed changes will allow patentees to choose between a new unitary patent (“European Patent”) covering multiple countries. In this proposed change, only a single renewal fee will need to be paid to the European Patent Office. In the current model, upon grant of a patent by the European Patent Office, separate renewal fees must be paid to each country for which the patent enters.
Still further, a Unified Patent Court will be established. This allows a single lawsuit to be filed which will cover multiple jurisdictions, thus saving the patentee money and time having to fight infringement in separate court systems in separate countries.
Another benefit of the proposed Unitary Patent Court will be that patentees under the current system will still have access to the Unitary Patent Court. Thus, even though it doesn't exist now, future infringement actions for patents under the old system will be less costly.
However, there is a risk associated with the Unitary Patent Court, as it applies to multiple jurisdictions, a finding of invalidity in the Unitary Patent Court will apply to all countries, unlike the current system, where a finding of invalidity in a French court only applies to France.