Unitary patents and the Unified Patent Court


This article was first published on Lexis®PSL IP & IT, February 2017 (Produced in partnership with Bristows

The UK government has confirmed it is proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (see the UK IPO’s press release) and, following this decision, the Preparatory Committee announced that it is planned that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will open for business in December 2017 (see the Preparatory Committee announcement).

Historical background and concepts

As far back as the 1950s, the six founding members of what is now the EU sought to introduce a patent covering the totality of their territories. Better known as a Community patent, and now as a Unitary patent (UP), this goal has proved difficult to reach, but two EU regulations were adopted in December 2012 and a non-EU Treaty was signed in February 2013 to establish a Unified Patent Court (UPC) for litigating these unitary (and importantly) both future and existing European patents and their supplementary protection certificates (SPCs). The intervening years, however, have added a significant layer of complexity to the patent regime in Europe, as has, of course, the result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, and a complete understanding of the new regime and its potential value and effect requires a recap of the major events.

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