The creation of a new European Unified Patent Court ("UPC") and a new patent with unitary effect ("Unitary Patent"), in which almost all member states of the European Union participate, is the most important change in the European patent system since the European Patent Convention came into effect in October 1977. It paves the way for a unified approach to patents in Europe and will fundamentally change the international patent litigation landscape.
The UPC is intended to improve the existing system in which so called bundle patents granted by the European Patent Office ("EPO") can only be enforced or revoked in national courts. This often results in two or more parallel actions in different countries. There are also significant differences between the approach and procedures of various national courts, and this has often led to inconsistent decisions. The new system is currently expected to come into force in late 2022 or early 2023. The procedural rules are in near final form, and once completed, will allow companies to properly plan for the new system. In this White Paper, we look at the key features of the new system, as now finalized, and the implications for business.
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