18 November 2015
The Select Committee responsible for supervising the EPO's activities with regard to the Unitary Patent reached agreement on the distribution of income generated by the payment of the uniform renewal fees by patent owners for maintaining their Unitary Patent. Under the arrangements foreseen in the European Patent Convention the EPO is entitled to 50% of each renewal fee, while the other 50% are to be distributed among the EU Member States participating in the Unitary Patent scheme.
"The decision reached on the distribution key for the renewal fees is a significant step forward on the road to implementing the Unitary Patent scheme", said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "With their agreement the EU Member States have underlined their strong commitment for making the long-expected Unitary Patent become a reality as soon as possible. Progress in the reform of the patent system has been very impressive indeed, and I am confident that we can finalise all preparatory work still in the current year." The EPO President stated: "For its own part, the EPO is ready to implement the system. Provided that the EU Member States manage to ratify the Agreement establishing the Unified Patent Court in time, the first Unitary Patents could already be delivered in the second half of 2016".
For the Agreement to enter into force, 13 ratifications are needed, among them those of France, Germany and the UK. So far, eight states have ratified, including France.
The agreement on the distribution key for renewal fees follows on from the agreement last June on the scale of the fees, set at a level roughly equivalent to what an applicant would normally pay for the four major countries under the classical European patent system. Since Italy acceded to the unitary patent package on 30 September, this fee level has become even more attractive.