EU unitary patent: Council move would infringe EU law, says EP rapporteur

The agreement reached by the European Council on 28 and 29 June 2012 settled the location of the Unified Patent Court's seats. However, the heads of state and government suggested that articles 6, 7 and 8 of the draft regulation on the creation of the unitary patent should be deleted. In effect, this would mean that the competence of the European Court of Justice in patent litigation cases would be considerably reduced.

The European Council's move would "infringe EU law" and make the rules "not effective at all", Bernhard Rapkay, responsible for the draft legislation, told the Legal Affairs Committee on Tuesday, July 10. Most Members of the European Parliament strongly criticised the European Council's move and agreed to resume the discussion in September.

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EU unitary patent – the Council reached an agreement on Court seats

Last Friday, the Council reached an agreement on the seat of the Court of First Instance to be competent in respect of actions relating to the validity or infringement of the future EU unitary patent.

It was agreed that the Court would be based in Paris and would have two specialised sections, one in London and the other in Munich. The London seat would deal with proceedings concerning chemistry, including pharmaceuticals, classification C, human necessities and classification A. On the other hand, the Munich Court would have competence for cases related to mechanical engineering, classification F. According to the Council, the division by thematic clusters is required “given the highly specialised nature of patent litigation and the need to maintain high quality standards”.

This means that, in the near future, there will be in the EU a single patent litigation system applicable to the EU unitary patent, which is expected to redure the costs of litigation and the risk of different rulings on the same dispute. Thus, soon it is expected to be possible to file a single patent application to be valid in all participating member states (i.e. the unitary patent), which will be managed by the European Patent Office, where the working languages are English, French and German. Any future conflict concerning the validity or infringement of such unitary patent would then be analysed by the Unified Patent Court.

The unitary patent package will be voted in the European Parliament this month, and after that the Council will be able to adopt the regulations needed to allow its implementation.

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Focus on user needs is IP5 Heads' main priority

The Heads of the world's five largest intellectual property offices (IP5) met yesterday in Europe to take stock of the progress achieved since the launch of the IP5 cooperation in 2007 and explore ways of further optimising their joint efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of the examination process for patents worldwide. These Offices handle, together, nearly 90% of the world's patent applications.

The IP5 Heads of Office also met with industry representatives from their respective regions. Responding to the views put forward by the industry, the five Heads expressed their common conviction that the focus of future IP5 initiatives should be even more user-directed. They also reflected on the realignment of the 10 IP5 Foundation Projects to address more effectively the challenges of a rapidly evolving IP landscape. A further key issue was the definition and implementation of a joint strategy to improve work-sharing. The Heads reaffirmed, moreover, their commitment to improving the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) as the primary work-sharing framework.

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What Patent Law for the European Union?

The Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) organized a conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the topic: "What Patent Law for the European Union?"

This symposium tried to shed some light on the unitary patent instrument that is being decided by the European Institutions. In order to have a better insight on the future mechanism and to reflect on the prospective EU patent system to come, the CEIPI brought together IP experts whose presentations and discussions are made available online for a deeper analysis.

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Intellectual property course design manual

The Academy of the European Patent Office (EPO) has released a handbook setting up new teaching content to make it easier for university lecturers to introduce intellectual property into various courses of study and educational programmes.

The manual will be of particular interest to those studying business/economics, innovation management and law. The manual consists of twenty-two modules grouped into five core areas, and can be downloaded in electronic format or ordered as a hard copy for free.

For further information please click here, for downloading or ordering here.

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New collaboration between the EPO and Russia on machine translation

Last week, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) signed an agreement that will allow the two organisations to exchange patent documents in Russian and English with the purpose to build text corpora to be used in EPO’s Patent Translate service.

According to EPO President Benoît Battistelli “the information function of patents cannot be rated high enough. Innovation is a global market, and by making their respective collections of patent documents accessible to researchers, scientists and inventors in Russian and English, the EPO and Rospatent significantly contribute to strengthening the innovation process both in their regions and at worldwide level. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as research institutions, stand to benefit from this improved access to information on new technologies.

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EPO and WIPO: a new agreement to enhance co-operation

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) signed a three-year cooperation agreement. This partnership is aimed at “improving the procedural framework of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with a view to increasing its use by patent applicants.  Moreover, co-operation also focuses on enhancing the quality and efficiency of the patent granting process, including patent classification and searching, and improving access to patent information.”

For further information on this new agreement, please click here.

If you are interested in the PCT, the patent filing route that allows you to seek patent protection simultaneously in 145 countries, please click here.

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International patent law harmonisation discussions get ahead

Heads of Offices and representatives from Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, the USA and the EPO participated in a meeting that took place near Munich on 19/20 April 2012, with the aim of considering steps to advance patent law harmonisation.

A group composed by technical and legal experts has been mandated to carry out a detailed comparative analysis of national and regional patent laws in various jurisdictions to evaluate the extent of harmonisation achieved and carry out studies on the following technical issues:

  • Grace period
  • 18-month publication
  • Prior art effect of secret prior art
  • Prior user rights

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