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The time is now for US filers of European patent applications to start formulating concrete strategies for navigating the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court framework. Jeremy Kriegel of Marshall, Gerstein & Borun reports.
Most US patent practitioners and frequent US filers of European patent applications have heard the news that Europe is migrating to a Unified Patent Court (UPC) system. US patent counsels’ attentiveness to the UPC has been tempered by the small number of EU member states that have ratified the UPC Agreement. Until more of the required minimum 13 countries ratify it, the likelihood of the UPC’s implementation has not seemed high enough to bother clients.
In September Italy (previously a rumoured hold-out) joined the unitary patent system. Additionally, on October 1 the EU approved a protocol permitting early implementation of various logistical aspects of the UPC, with a view to opening the UPC in early 2017. These are signals that US applicants must start paying closer attention to the UPC.
So far eight EU member states (Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg, and Portugal) have provided notification of their ratification of the UPC Agreement. If, in addition to Italy, Germany and the UK ratify, then only two more EU states will be needed. The time is now for US filers of European patent applications and US owners of European patents to start formulating concrete strategies likely to be effective in a unified patent system framework.
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Jeremy Kriegel, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun,