Expected to come into full force in 2017, the UPC and the
European patent with unitary effect ("Unitary Patent")
will introduce the most radical changes to patent litigation in
Europe for forty years. Under this new system, it will be possible
to enforce European patents and Unitary Patents in one set of
proceedings, in the 25 contracting EU Member States of the UPC, simultaneously. These patents can also be
revoked in one action in all of these Member States. The UPC is thus intended to improve upon the
existing European system, in which patents can only be enforced or
revoked in national courts – often resulting in two or more
parallel actions in different countries, with the associated legal
costs and the possibility of inconsistent decisions.
A provisional period in which existing, granted European patents
and applications may be opted-out from the UPC is expected to start in late 2016, three to
four months before the court comes into full effect. However,
before the court and the provisional period can begin, 13
contracting Member States must ratify the UPC Agreement, including France, Germany and
the UK. So far, there have been 9 ratifications, including France.
In other recent developments:
9 May 2016 – The UPC
Preparatory Committee announces the start of the applications
procedure for legally and technically qualified judges of the
6 May 2016 – Italy approves draft legislation allowing
the process of ratification of the UPC to
29 February 2016 – The UPC
Preparatory Committee publishes the agreed Rules on Court fees and
recoverable costs of the court. Download the full details
18 February 2016 – The UPC
Preparatory Committee agrees the Rules on Mediation for use in the
Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre. The
16 February 2016 – Germany formally starts the UPC ratification process and is expected to
finalise this towards the end of 2016.
The focus on the product being obvious or anticipated as at a certain date provides powerful protection and commercial certainty without conflicting with a patentee's ability to obtain patent protection.
The High Court considered a claim by Azumi, the owner of high-end Japanese restaurant Zuma against Zuma's Choice Pet Products Limited (ZCPP) and its director Zoe Vanderbilt for trade mark infringement.
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