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Unitary Patent delayed again

Two recent decisions have delayed the introduction of the Unitary Patent yet again.

In 2012, the European Parliament had decided to introduce a single Unitary Patent and the establishment of a Unified Patent Court (UPC), scheduled to begin its work in 2020. However, following two far-reaching decisions concerning this issue, it is unclear if and when the Unitary Patent and the UPC may be implemented:

  • United Kingdom – Withdrawal after Brexit

The UK - as one of the three nations with the highest number of EP grants – had to ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement for it to come into force. It did so in 2018 even after having decided to leave the EU. However, the UK Parliament finally decided against participation in the new system and officially withdrew. As a result, the UPC requires amendments prior to implementation, and the entire system will lose much of its appeal to patent filers.

  • Germany – Decision on complaint to the constitutional court

In 2017, a complaint was filed at the Federal German Constitutional Court against the establishment of a Unified Patent Court for Europe. The court has now ruled that the transfer of decision-making authority from a German court to a European court violates constitutional rules. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag. However, only 35 people took part in the original vote. A new vote must now be taken on the formation of a Unified Patent Court. Due to the special requirements imposed by Covid-19, it is highly unlikely that another vote will be scheduled any time soon.

These new developments may put a final stop to the UPC, but in any case will result in significant further delays. Originally, the new system was to be introduced as early as 2014, with the most recent forecast for the end of 2020. For the time being at least, there is only the option of the EPC and local validation of European Patents. PAVIS has been offering a central validation service since 2019. To date, more than 60 clients have made use of this service, saving costs and increasing efficiencies.

If you would like to find out more about our EP validation services, please visit our website or contact us to request an estimate.

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