Thursday, 6 August 2015

Portugal ratifies unified patent court

A commenter to a previous post alerts me that the President of Portugal has completed the Portuguese ratification process by decree.  The official page gives a link to 'Aprova o Acordo Relativo ao Tribunal Unificado de Patentes', which I presume means 'Approval of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court'.

Portugal has not yet deposited its instrument of ratification, but as far as I know this is only a matter of time. After this final formal step, Portugal will be the eighth state to ratify the unitary patent. Only 5 to go, including the UK and Germany.

The ratification of Portugal, puts Spain between two countries Italy and Portugal that have either ratified the unified patent court agreement or seem to be about to.

President of the Republic to give Presidential assent by decree and thereafter Portugal still needs to deposit its instrument of ratification in Brussels for it to be effective - See more at:
Photo "25 April Tagus bridge " by Pedro Ribeiro Simões obtained via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license (no changes made).

Will Unitary patents drive increased validation?

As preparations for the unitary patent continues in Europe, interest outside Europe increases. According to an Eversheds report of the recent IP Business Congress in San Francisco, US companies and non-practicing entities alike are following the developments in Europe. They seem to believe that the unitary patent will have a positive impact on the commercial value of European patents. 

An interesting prediction, which I had not heard before, is that under the influence of the unitary patent also bundle patents will be validated in an increasing number of countries. I suppose the reasoning is that, since unitary patents cover a large part of the European market, they will be worth more than bundle patents. To keep up with a unitary patent, the proprietor of a European bundle patent will thus be motivated to validate in more countries.

If this prediction turns out to be correct, it may in fact encourage the adoption of unitary patents over bundle patents. For a patent proprietor who validates in more countries, it will quickly become financially beneficial to switch to a unitary patent. Renewal fees for the unitary patent are set at the equivalent of validating in four countries.

On the other hand, some companies have other reasons to avoid the unitary patent that are unrelated to finance. For example, one may wish to avoid central invalidation, one may have concerns about the quality of UPC judges, one may wish to avoid invalidation proceedings outside the home markets, etc.  

I've previously experienced that for non-European companies that pursue European patents, selecting the country list for validation can be a headache. Obviously, you want the big economies covered, but which of the smaller countries are interesting enough to justify the costs? The unitary patent has the potential to simplify this process considerably.

Photo "United States" by Moyan Brenn obtained via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license (no changes made).