In 2015, Gowling WLG conducted an online survey of patent attorneys and solicitors in private practice and in-house roles, seeking their views on the introduction of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and Unitary Patent (UP). The results then showed a strong degree of pessimism as to the necessity of the system and whether it would be a success.
Much has changed since 2015, including the impact of Brexit, meaning that the UK is no longer part of the system. Have attitudes towards the UP and UPC changed with the imminent arrival of the court and patent system on 1 June 2023? Are companies any better prepared? And what issues do prospective users of the court consider need resolving as a priority?
To find out, in late 2022 and early 2023, we ran a follow-up survey to gather the views of in-house practitioners and their external advisers. The results show that pessimism has generally been replaced by a cautious optimism that the system will be a success. However, it also suggests that there is work to do, as many companies are still not sold on the benefits of the new system and there are some pressing concerns that the court will need to address as a matter of priority. Of particular concern is the fact that a significant proportion of companies are still seemingly unprepared for what promises to be the biggest change in the European patent landscape for more than 50 years.
At a glance
- Although some companies intend to file a blanket opt-out, an
average of 64% of existing EPs are predicted to be opted out
- National court proceedings will remain a key part of European
patent strategies, with 85% of respondents still expecting to
enforce their patents in national courts
- Only 30% of clients have a settled strategy for the UPC or are in the process of formulating one
The survey was conducted between 22 November 2022 and 16 January 2023. Respondents were drawn from both private practice and in-house roles with approximately three quarters of responses from private practice patent attorneys and patent lawyers, which is similar to the distribution of responses collected for our previous survey in 2015. Respondents are drawn from a broad range of industries with patent portfolios ranging from a handful of families to more than 20,000.
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