The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) published a Press Release that it rejected a Spanish court action against the Unitary Patent Package which shall establish a common patent title for the EU without Spain, Italy and Croatia. This was an important step towards the realization of the Unitary Patent title in the EU.
The Unitary Patent will only be applicable, when at least 13 EU members including Germany, France and the United Kingdom ratified the parallel agreement on the Unified Patent Court treating all infringement cases for Unitary patents. At the moment, six EU member states have ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement. The start of the Unitary Patent is expected in 2016.
Then, a Unitary Patent can be achieved by requesting Unitary Patent protection within one month after a grant of a European patent. This holds also for presently pending European patent applications granted after the start of the Unitary Patent. However, the applicants preferring the present system of national patent titles can continue to validate the single national patents in the territory of the Unitary Patent protection instead of the Unitary patent title. This will offer applicants in addition to the already existing strategies for patent protection in Europe one further European patent strategy.
Even if the maintenance fees of the Unitary Patent title are not yet fixed, it is assumed that the price for the Unitary Patent title will be around the price for the four countries Germany, France, United Kingdom and Netherlands being validated the most often. Therefore, the Unitary Patent protection will make sense in particular for applicants being interested in patent protection of more than four countries of the European Union participating in the Unitary Patent package.
If applicants of pending European patent applications see an advantage in a Unitary Patent protection, they could try to delay the grant for the European patent application. If you have any questions about the future Unitary Patent and its strategical implications for you, do not hesitate to contact us.