The future of the Unitary Patent package as seen by the EPO:

Benoît Batistelli, the EPO’s president published this week a communiqué on the future of the Unitary Patent package following a conference hosted by the EPO in Munich.

It appears that the participants were eager to find ways for the Unitary Patent package to go ahead and enter into operation as soon as possible. Benoit Batistelli highlighted in his communiqué that “at a time of economic challenges and significant budgetary constraints for companies, businesses should not be denied the economic advantages and cost savings offered by the Unitary Patent package”.

Another trend common to the event organised in Paris by the UJUB and the conference organised in Munich by the EPO was the  hope that “political leaders will listen to the pleas of the user community to go ahead with the Unitary Patent package”, especially as the UPC will be ready to begin operating once the necessary ratifications of the UPC Agreement are obtained.

Panel discussions among business representatives also  confirmed that “users are by and large happy with the envisaged implementation, including renewal fees, the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court, and other decisions of the UPC Preparatory Committee”, while a panel discussion among renowned patent judges showed that “future UPC judges will be well prepared for the challenges and that proceedings can be expected to be handled in the most efficient way”. It appears therefore that the expectations in Paris and in Munich for the UPC were very high and that users are eager to see the UPC in action.

Different scenarios for the best way to proceed with the Unitary Patent package were therefore addressed . According to the EPO,  the best case scenario would see the UK going ahead as soon as possible with the ratification of the UPC Agreement. This would allow the UK afterwards, in its EU exit negotiations, to obtain its continuous participation both in the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent.  In fact, as discussed in Paris, “with the UK having brought the system into operation by ratification and having participated in the system from the beginning, it is possible that Member States may allow the continued participation of the UK , even after the ‘Brexit’ takes effect”. The EPO’s president noted however in his communiqué that, even if the UK were not to take part in the Unitary Patent package, there seems to be “a clear feeling in the international user community that the system would remain sufficiently attractive for many”.

Finally, the EPO expressed in its communiqué its support for the UPC, and “stands ready not only to register the first Unitary Patents, but also to assist as much as possible in finding appropriate solutions in the interest of our user community and our Contracting States.”

With Theresa May becoming the new UK Prime Minister today in the UK, one can hope that the UPC will be on her agenda in the coming months.