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How the new unitary patent will work

Emma Barraclough, London

  • EU patent looks almost certain
  • Patents could be filed from spring 2014
  • Cheaper, simpler system for patentees

A vote by MEPs in December in favour of the unitary patent means that IP owners planning their patent filing strategies could soon have a new way of protecting their rights in Europe.

At the moment, inventors in Europe can use two routes: they can file directly with national patent offices or they can apply for a European patent, submitting a single patent application to the European Patent Office and nominating the countries where they would like protection. Once granted, a European patent must be enforced separately in each country in which it is registered.

From 2014, IP owners could have a new option open to them: the unitary patent.

The timetable depends on the unified patent court agreement being ratified by 13 member states (including France, Germany and the UK) later this...

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