26 November 2020
Today, the German Bundestag adopted with the necessary qualified majority the draft ratification bill including the consent to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA).
Welcoming the news, EPO President António Campinos said: "Today's approval by the Bundestag brings us an important step closer to the much-anticipated implementation of the Unitary Patent package. Once that happens, European inventors will finally be able benefit from the Unitary Patent, giving them uniform patent protection and, what's more, a unified system for litigation in all participating EU Member States. This will make Europe even more attractive for innovation and investors - and help with economic recovery in light of the COVID-19 crisis".
The EPO is ready to register the first Unitary Patents. For Unitary Patents to become available, the UPCA has to enter into force which requires the ratification by 13 of the 25 participating EU Member States, including France, Germany and Italy. In Germany, the UPC bill will now be submitted to the German upper house (Bundesrat) for approval later this year. Once the German ratification procedure is complete, it's anticipated that the final preparatory steps could be taken to set up the Unitary Patent Court in 2021. The UPC could then start its work in 2022.
The Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court are the building blocks of the so-called Unitary Patent package which will supplement and strengthen the existing centralised European patent granting system. They will offer users a cost-effective option for patent protection and dispute settlement across Europe.
Unitary Patents will make it possible to get uniform patent protection in up to 25 EU Member States by submitting a single request to the EPO, making the procedure simpler and more cost effective for applicants.
The UPC will be an international court with jurisdiction for patents granted by the EPO. This specialized court will make the Europe-wide enforcement of patents a reality, offer greater legal certainty and reduce litigation costs. The Court is based on an international treaty, the UPCA.