One size fits all? – some countries are still unsure of the benefits of an EU unitary patent system
A single patent that covers all of Europe has been a goal for more than four decades – and now with the unitary patent, we are almost there. The unitary patent and unified patent court (UPC) will have a significant impact on the litigation landscape and patent filing strategies in Europe. The main aim behind the development of the unitary patent system is to make Europe more competitive with the US and China, by reducing the cost of obtaining patent protection and also enforcing patents. Under the current system, a patent obtained via the European Patent Office (EPO) is in effect a bundle of separate national patents. There are fees and translation costs for each of these patents, meaning costs could go up to £200,000. In contrast, there are no validation costs in either the US or China and renewal fees are less than £10,000 (over the life of a patent).This disparity has led to sustained criticism of the European patent system and has been a major motivating factor for development of the unitary patent.
The European Union is closer to adopting a unitary patent system, together with a unitary patent court. But as Jane Hollywood and Robert Stephen discover, some EU countries still need convincing of their merits
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