UPC (Unified patent court) is a new system, which was agreed upon by EU member states almost seven years back, and is finally set to go into effect on 1st June 2023, following numerous delays. The new court will be responsible for resolving all disputes regarding the infringement and validity of new Unitary Patents, as well as similar disputes regarding European patents that have been opted out of the system. The UPC will have exclusive jurisdiction rights granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) for UPC countries.
The new system will assist companies across Europe in two key areas of concern, by allowing them to:
- Obtain a Unitary patent that covers the right of patent owner across all the EU member states
- Secure and enforce their patent rights through centralized litigation at the UPC if necessary
The process for securing patent protection and enforcing patent rights in the European Union will soon become simpler, opening up new patent portfolio monetization strategies that previously might have been beyond the reach of mid-size companies.
There are some major factors that one must consider while devising their patent monetization strategy:
Ease in applying for patents –
The ability to opt for a Unitary patent, which grants coverage for multiple European countries with one patent, as opposed to obtaining bundle of “classic patents through the traditional European patent system. This can be more appealing and will definitely reduce costs and administrative workload in comparison to validation and dealing with national patent offices in multiple countries.
Ease in enforcing the patent rights –
The introduction of the UPC would provide an opportunity for companies, particularly small and medium-sized ones, who rely on patents to protect their intellectual property, to access the European market which might have been unattainable for them earlier due to the costs and complexity. The opportunity to litigate in multiple countries in a single action in the UPC will significantly reduce the complexity and length of the litigations and lead to a higher degree of compliance with patent rights.
Cost Effectiveness –
The Unitary Patent, which will have lower annual renewal costs than obtaining patents in individual countries, will be a more cost-effective option for companies seeking to validate their patent application in multiple countries. Additionally, with the Unitary Patent, there is no need to separately validate it in each country, avoiding the expenses of local patent office fees and the need to hire local attorneys. Another important benefit of a Unitary patent is that it needs only to be translated into one other EU official language after the grant whereas in the current European patents (non-unitary), translations are to be filed for the different states in different territories where the patent needs to be validated.
Currently, enforcing patent rights in the EU requires separate legal action in each member state, which can be very costly for most companies. The UPC will provide an opportunity to litigate in multiple countries through a single action, which will greatly reduce the cost of multinational litigation. This will make it more appealing for companies to validate patents in additional countries, as there will be little to no incremental cost in including smaller countries in litigation cases.
Simplicity and Efficiency –
The cumbersome process of the need to validate and renew a granted patent on a country-by-country basis will be simplified with the introduction of the Unitary patent, which allows for a single renewal fee. This will reduce the administrative costs and expenses for the innovator, allowing them to focus more on R&D and strategy costs to monetize its patent.
The introduction of a Unitary patent allows for any litigation related to it to be handled by the UPC, a specialized court for patent disputes in Europe, which means that parties no longer need to navigate separate legal processes in different countries. Instead, they can use a single procedure in a common court and receive a single decision that applies to all countries where the Unitary patent is valid.
This creates a centralized, efficient, and cost-effective system for handling post-grant proceedings, such as infringement claims.
The UPC’s ability to quickly resolve cases will significantly decrease the cost of prolonged litigation and provide businesses with more certainty in a shorter period. This will also enable businesses to bring their cases to court more swiftly if necessary.
Primary language: English –
The Unitary patent system will primarily use English as its language, with all patents having an English version, making it easier for businesses in English-speaking countries such as the UK and US to participate in UPC hearings in their native language, eliminating the need for expensive translations. Additionally, once the system is in place, obtaining post-grant translations will no longer be required, simplifying the processes, and reducing costs.
Overall, the UPC has the potential to make the process of enforcing and monetizing patents more efficient and effective for patent holders, which could help to encourage innovation and the development of new technologies. Additionally, the UPC could help to reduce the risk of patent litigation by providing a more predictable and consistent legal framework for patent disputes. This could make it easier for companies to assess the potential risks and rewards of licensing or using patented technology, which could also contribute to the monetization of patents.
With the advent of UPC, we at Researchwire believe that all companies will be able to protect and monetize their patents more effectively. Our team at Researchwire can work with you on identifying your valuable patents and help them monetize by providing the evidence of use charts that will be crucial in supporting your arguments while enforcing your patent rights in a Unified patent court.