The Member States of the European Union are preparing to introduce a new European patent with unitary effect (unitary patent or UP) and a single Unified Patent Court with divisions located throughout Europe. With this package of broad patent reforms, the significance and the scope of patent litigation in Europe is expected to increase substantially. From both legal and business perspectives, the new system, in particular the new Unified Patent Court (UPC), is the biggest game-changer in European patent law in history, bringing about fundamental changes for patentees, defendants, their counsel, judges and everyone involved in patent litigation in Europe.
Contrary to the status quo in Europe, where patents must be enforced and invalidated in each jurisdiction separately, under the new system European patents may be granted with unitary effect and so will be enforceable across Europe with just one action before the UPC. All decisions taken by the UPC, including injunctions, damages and decisions on the validity of a patent (whether UP or a traditional European bundle patent) will have pan-European effect. This will put almost the entire single European market with a population of some 400 million people at stake in UP litigation.
The UPC will have jurisdiction not only over the new unitary patents, but also for all existing and future European bundle patents, EP patent applications and supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) from its first day of operation. Thus, unless a holder of existing European patents decides to "opt-out" of the new system (see here), those patents will be subject to the UPC and its new procedural rules. The new system provides unprecedented opportunities, but it is complicated and comes with a number of pitfalls which could bring unpleasant surprises to those caught unprepared. Potential users of the new system need to educate themselves in time before the UPC is up and running in order to make smart choices, to avoid being caught off guard and to take advantage of the new possibilities.
We at DLA Piper believe that we are uniquely positioned to help you navigate these uncharted waters. Our dedicated cross-border team of experienced patent litigation lawyers is based in all major European jurisdictions and has the experience and the resources to provide the advice and guidance for you to take full advantage of the new system's many options. This site is DLA Piper's hub for all information relating to this crucial patent reform. It provides information on the new unitary patent, sets out the structure of the upcoming Unified Patent Court and keeps you up to date with the latest news and developments. For any further information, please get in touch with Dr. Markus Gampp or any member of our UPC team.