UK patent attorneys are worried by the current proposals for a European Unified Patents Court. Jacqueline Needle explains.
In 1978 the European Patent Office (EPO) opened for business. At that time there were proposals to provide a unitary Community patent, and the idea was also advanced of establishing a pan-European Court to deal with validity and infringement throughout Europe.
Thirty-four years later, the EPO has become a victim of its own success: to cope with the ever increasing number of patent applications being filed, it is turning itself into an authority which refuses, rather than grants, patents. The ideas for Community patents and unified courts have rumbled along throughout the years, and every so often various proposals seemed to be gaining support from all interested parties.
But in 2011, the Hungarian and Polish Presidencies, working with the Competitiveness Council of the EU, decided to ride roughshod over the views of experts in the field. The result is that we seem to have a version of the Community patent coming into force, which Italy and Spain will boycott. There are also proposals for a new Unified Patents Court, which UK practitioners cannot support in their present form.
Unified Patents Court