Yesterday’s News: European Unitary Patent system becomes official

One February 19, 2013, 24 of the 27 EU member states (all but Bulgaria, Poland and Spain) signed the agreement that establishes Unified Patent Court (UPC) and unitary patent system. Italy changed its mind and joined, and Bulgaria is expected to budge and sign soon.

Requests for unitary patents may be filed from the later of January 1, 2014, or the date that 13 countries (which must include France, Germany, and the U.K.) have ratified it. Full press release from EPO can be found here.

Prosecution (application requirements, examination, etc.) before the EPO remains the same until the point the examiner decides to grant a patent. Once the new system goes into effect, applicants will have a choice of proceeding under the old county-by-county validation system or the unitary system. Unitary patents can save money up front because there are no translation costs (as you had with the national validation system) and you pay a single annuity for the unitary patent as opposed to each national annuity. But you do end up putting all your eggs in one, unitary basket, the validity of which will be determined by the UPC. So litigation-prone clients and attorneys may prefer the old system where you get multiple shots at the validity question.

Shameless Plug: My Article on Patent Law Reform

The Texas Lawbook just published my article on how March 16, 2013, will mark a significant change in the American patent law system. The last portion of the America Invents Act of 2011 (popularly known as the “patent reform”) goes into effect in less than two months, and it will have a profound impact on patent practice.

Head on over to Texas Lawbook’s website or the Carstens & Cahoon, LLP Blog to check out my article for more detail.