The European Union is taking radical steps towards a borderless patent system by introducing a new unitary patent right that will take effect across most of the EU as a single territory. A new Unified Patent Court (UPC) is also being set up to determine European patent disputes.
For the first time, this will give litigants the opportunity to establish their freedom to operate or halt an infringer across Europe in one court action.
The new court system aims to provide businesses of all shapes and sizes with swifter, fairer and more cost effective means of resolving patent disputes in Europe.
Decisions of the UPC will take effect in all participating EU Member States, so avoiding the need for expensive, parallel proceedings in national courts that are heard in different languages, on different timescales and, sometimes, with different outcomes. The UPC’s specialist patent judges will determine disputes relating to all future European patents with unitary effect and, subject to an opt-out, all conventional European Patents in participating EU states.
The UPC will have uniquely European procedures, drawing on the best aspects of existing national systems without favouring one system over another. The judges will have wide discretionary powers to determine the most appropriate procedure for each particular case, providing greater flexibility in patent litigation. Companies pursuing simple, low value claims should be able to pursue a minimalist approach, while companies involved in complex, higher value cases should still have access to more detailed procedures such as document disclosure, experiments, live expert evidence and cross-examination of witnesses.
The new system offers litigants many potential benefits as well as some unique challenges. Rouse’s Unitary Patent Team is ideally placed to help businesses navigate their way through the new system.
A Guide to Litigating in Europe's Unified Patent Court
We’ve produced a guide to the new court system and how it will work. This will be updated regularly as the UPC continues to develop. If you’d like to find out more, or would like a free copy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court was signed as an international treaty in February 2013, by 25 Member States (all except Spain, Poland and Croatia). However, it must still be ratified in accordance with the respective constitutional requirements of the signatory states.