Posted on Monday 20 November 2017 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

A new study by the European Patent Office (EPO) has found that while the current European patent system has had a positive impact on the circulation of technologies through trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the EU single market, the introduction of the long awaited Unitary Patent will remove many of the restrictions of the current patent system which at times are seen to hinder EU-wide patent protection. 

The study entitled ‘Patents, trade and foreign direct investment in the European Union’, states that improved harmonisation of the patent system will have the potential to increase trade and FDI in high technology manufacturing sectors and potentially lead to annual gains of €14.6billion in trade and a further €1.8billion in FDI. The technology sectors referred to in this analysis include medical devices, biopharmaceuticals, ICT and production all of which maintain high usage of their Intellectual Property (IP).

The Unitary Patent will provide an opportunity to acquire a European wide patent with one single application covering all member states without the need to validate a patent before each national office which at present is the necessary procedure. Many see this current system as fragmented and hindering possible trade and investment opportunities, the introduction of the UP is a way to remove these boundaries and restrictions, all of which is further outlined in this EPO report.

When will the Unitary Patent come into effect?

Much news and speculation has surrounded that of the Unitary Patent (UP) and the introduction of the Unitary Patent Court (UPC), an international court which will have jurisdiction over infringement issues relating to patents and the Unitary Patent. Various issues have stalled the introduction of both, most notably Brexit and the more recent delays by Germany who have yet to ratify the legislation and whose decision on the issue has been further postponed until the end of December.

In the case of Ireland, ratification of the UPC agreement requires amendment of the Constitution and as such a referendum will need to be held. However, a date has yet to be set and while the government has announced plans for up to seven referendums during 2018 and 2019, there has been no mention of proposed action for the UPC. It is now a case of waiting