Unitary patent takes shape

13 April 2011

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European Commission presents its draft regulations on unitary patent protection

The EPO has welcomed the publication of two draft regulations on the unitary patent by the European Commission today. This follows the decision taken last month by 25 of the EU's 27 member states to proceed with the creation of a unitary patent through enhanced cooperation.

"This is another important step towards the establishment of unitary patent protection for Europe," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "I am pleased to see that this proposal was presented so soon after the EU Council authorised enhanced cooperation. I hope that the commitment of the European Commission to move this important dossier forward will find the full support of the EU Council and European Parliament, who will discuss the proposals over the next few months," he said.

The draft regulation on the unitary patent proposes that a classic (bundle) European patent granted by the EPO could be transformed ─ upon request by the patent holder ─ into a unitary patent that is valid for all 25 EU member states currently participating in the scheme. The unitary patent would exist alongside national and classic European patents.

The second draft regulation  ─ on the translation arrangements for the unitary patent ─ proposes to use the EPO's tried and tested language and translation regime, which is based on three official languages (English, French and German). No additional manual translations would be required, as high-quality machine translation would be available. Transitional measures are proposed for the interim period until machine translation is fully operational.

It is proposed that the EPO will take on a number of additional tasks under the proposed scheme, such as the administration of requests for the new patent, renewal fees and the register for the unitary patent.

"The EPO is well prepared to carry out these additional tasks on behalf of the EU and the current group of 25 participating member states, and I am confident that we will be ready to take on this work once the two regulations enter into force," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "For the Office and for the European Patent Organisation it is important that there is full coverage of the costs of carrying out additional tasks and that the financial sustainability of the European Patent Organisation is maintained under the unitary patent scheme," President Battistelli said.

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