EPO welcomes historic breakthrough on the unitary patent

The European Patent Office (EPO) strongly welcomes the agreement reached today by EU member states on the location of the central division of the future European patent court, which removes a significant obstacle to the introduction of unitary patent protection in Europe.

"In taking this long-awaited step towards the completion of the European patent system, Europe has demonstrated its conviction that the best way to counter current economic uncertainties is to boost innovation and strengthen the competitiveness of its industry. The simplification of the existing patent system will bring particular benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises and to innovators in universities and research centres," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all those involved at European level for their help in making this historic decision a reality," he added.

After lengthy discussions, the member states agreed that Paris should be the seat of the court's central division, with clusters in Munich and London. The European patent court will be set up on the basis of an international treaty and will have exclusive jurisdiction in infringement and revocation proceedings involving European and unitary patents.

This decision paves the way for the adoption of the unitary patent, which will replace the requirement for national validation procedures with a single step to reduce costs and dramatically simplify the present cumbersome method of obtaining access to patent protection in Europe. The EPO has been designated as the competent authority for granting the unitary patent and will administer it centrally on behalf of the 25 EU members which have agreed to participate. This will entail a number of additional tasks for the EPO, such as maintaining the register of unitary patents and collecting renewal fees.

"The EPO is well-prepared to carry out these further tasks on behalf of the EU and the participant countries. We will be ready to start work as soon as the unitary patent package enters into force," confirmed President Battistelli. 

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