Innovation is key to the growth of the technology sector in India and beyond. But this innovation needs to be protected internationally as well as nationally.
Recent developments in the patent system in Europe are key for Indian companies looking to exploit European markets. This article looks at these changes - vital for companies looking to maintain an advantage in the protection of their innovation and for exploitation in lucrative European markets.
Recent reforms to the European patent system are expected to provide great advantages for innovation-minded companies seeking patent protection for their R&D investments and new technologies in Europe.
The European Patent Convention (EPC) harmonised the European patent system in 1973. The EPC created one system to apply to patents throughout the whole of Europe. Under that system, the European Patent Office granted European Patents and after grant, in order to obtain patent protection in a European Member State, the patent holder had to take steps to register the patent at the national level. These ‘European Patents’ were then enforced on a country-by country basis.
While the system helped establish Europe as one of the leading patent systems in the world, the lack of a single European patent and a single patent court system which could enforce these patents meant that patent protection throughout Europe was expensive and out of reach for most small to medium-sized enterprises. It is hoped that will change with the introduction of the Unitary Patent and the Unitary Patent Court.
After many years of discussion and negotiation between European institutions, the new European Patent with Unitary Effect, or “Unitary Patent” and Unitary Patent Court (UPC) promise to smooth the way to patent protection in Europe. The Unitary Patent should reduce the cost of Europe-wide patent coverage and the UPC will introduce a more efficient system for enforcing patents.
Twenty-five of the 27 European Union Member States have signed up to the Unitary Patent system – Poland and Spain have stayed out. The Unitary Patent will provide protection in all 25 countries. Patent holders will no longer need to register the patent at national level and application and renewal fees will be payable only to the European Patent Office.
The UPC will be an international court dealing with infringement and validity disputes relating to Unitary Patents and European Patents. It will be headquartered in Paris with branches throughout Europe. The Central Division of the UPC will decide cases relating to the validity of patents and will have its seat in Paris with divisions in London (dealing with cases relating to chemistry, including pharmaceuticals, and the life sciences) and Munich (dealing with cases relating to mechanical engineering). The UPC will have local and regional divisions throughout Europe where infringement cases can be heard. The substantive law of the UPC will be the existing law under the EPC. The new system is expected to come into force in late 2015 or 2016.
The main advantage of the UPC is that it will allow patent holders to obtain patent protection across the EU with one patent and, should enforcement be necessary, to obtain damages and injunctions covering most of Europe in one go. Currently, a patent holder can only enforce its patents on a country-by-country basis which can mean having to litigate in multiple national courts simultaneously. Despite its advantages, the system also represents a risk for patents holders because if they lose a case relating to the validity of the patent, the patent is revoked throughout Europe. - See more at: http://www.indiaincorporated.com/guest-article/item/3678-patents-in-europe-reform-comes-closer.html#sthash.k9oemmj4.dpuf