On June 29, 2012, twenty-five EU Member States reached agreement on the location of the Central Division of the future European patent court, overcoming the last major obstacle to the adoption of the European Union Unitary Patent. Only Spain and Italy refused to participate in the Unitary Patent System.
The member states of the EU agreed that Paris should be the seat of the court’s central division, with additional branches in Munich and London. The formation of the Unitary Patent Court is expected to reduce litigation costs, as it would allow patent infringement and revocation proceedings on European and unitary patents to be brought in a single court, rather than having to litigate in multiple national courts throughout Europe. It will also reduce confusion that currently arises when the different national courts come to different decisions.
This decision paves the way for the adoption of the unitary patent, which will replace the requirement for national validation procedures with a single step, thereby reducing costs and greatly streamlining the present cumbersome arrangements for obtaining access to patent protection in Europe.
Currently, applications for a European Patent need to be filed with the EPO in Munich and then translated and refiled in each applicable EU member state. Under a Unitary Patent system, applications will only be translated into the three official languages of the EPO—English, German, and French—and they will not need to be filed in each country where the patent is to be recognized.The EPO has been designated to grant the unitary patent and centrally administer it on behalf of the 25 EU members which have agreed to participate.
This will entail a number of additional tasks for the EPO, such as maintaining the register of unitary patents and collecting renewal fees.