The creation and start of the Unified Patent Court will change the mindset of patent litigation in Europe fundamentally. The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent will, according to the Chairman Alexander Ramsay, be ready by the middle of 2016 with the preparations for the new Court.
In May the recruitment of judges began, and once the preparations are completed the so called “sunrise period” will start. The Agreement on the Patent with Unitary Effect, the Translation regime, and the Unified Patent Court will then enter into force, possibly already in the beginning of 2017 – and all applicants and proprietors therefore have to be readily prepared and have their strategies ready during the fall of 2016.
We will present in four parts some of the important factors and aspects to consider when preparing a strategy. Some other aspects that must be weighed in when preparing a strategy before the Unitary Patent and the UPC is existing or potential licensing agreements, different proprietors in different countries, if the patent has been involved in opposition proceedings etc.
Firstly it must be kept in mind that not all Contracting member states will be covered by the Unitary Effect from the start. At the moment (May 2016), only 10 countries have ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement, and only those countries that have ratified at the time that your European patent is granted will be covered by the Unitary Patent. Since Great Britain and Germany will have to be among the 13 states to ratify the UPCA before it enters into force, which means that for the same cost for renewal fees for four countries today, your Unitary Patent will at least cover 13 states. This also means that your patents will be covered in the three Contracting Member states in which most validations of European patents are carried out today, which would still be a great advantage in terms of cost vs. coverage.
Sofia Willquist, European Patent Attorney