Discussion by international experts
The unitary patent resounds troughout the lands. However, what kind of animal is it? Should it be used, and if yes, how and what for should it be used? How can it help innovative businesses to protect and monetize their inventions in a better way? These and further questions will be discussed in very practical terms by several, international experts in the field.
The unitary patent is a creation of the European Union; it is fundamentally different from the other industrial property titles of the EU, the Community trademark, the Community design and the Community plant variety: It is not granted by an EU agency but by the European Patent Office (EPO).
Various attempts to create a community patent, i.e. a patent of the Union which is self-contained in respect of grant and validity, have been made since the late fifties of the last century and turned out to be in vain. Over the decades, the main contested issues were a common court system and the language problem, which is always a delicate question in Europe, in the present context regarding the question into which languages the patent has to be translated. Eventually three developments made it possible to overcome the obstacles on the way to a unitary patent for the whole Union: First, the possibility of “enhanced cooperation” among a group of EU states, created by the Treaty of Amsterdam for situations in which not all EU states are prepared to cooperate. Second, the decision to connect the new EU title in the simplest manner with the grant proceedings before the EPO and to design it as a mere option for the applicant. Third, the design of a specialized Unified Patent Court allowing for specialized patent litigation system for Unitary patents and European bundle patents.