Long-awaited agreement on a European Unified Patent Court clears the way for unitary EU patent system

After 30 years of negotiations, a huge step for the E.U.'s future unitary patent system: a historic breakthrough was achieved on June 29th by a decision on where the central division of the European Unified Patent Court will be located.  It will be in Paris.  London and Munich will have thematic patent clusters.  A specialized branch in Munich will be handling cases involving mechanical engineering.  Another specialized branch of the Court in will be London dealing with pharmaceuticals.  The first president of the Court will be French.  Furthermore, a specialized appeals court will be located in Luxembourg.

The concluded agreement essentially lays the foundations for a unified European patent. Deciding where the Court's central division should be located was the last outstanding issue that had to be solved to come to an agreement on the unitary patent system.  Having a European patent means that companies can apply for a patent valid throughout the E.U. in one place, instead of applying to 27 different places in all the member states.  The new court system will reduce patent litigation costs for European companies by at total of approximately €289 million (US$360 million) each year. Obtaining a patent that would be valid in 13 member states today can cost up to €20,000 (US$25,000), and approximately €14,000 of that sum would be spent on translations alone.  In comparison, it costs approximately €1,850 to obtain a U.S. patent.  If all goes well, the first patent title with unitary patent protection could be delivered in 2014. Keep your fingers crossed.