Members of IPcopy are always on the look out for snippets of unitary patent and unified patent court news and it was during such a search this week that we came across a conference report of a Unitary Patent Package Conference that was held in Amsterdam on 6 February 2014.
The full report of the conference can be found here. Having skimmed through the conference summary we noted a few points of interest which are detailed below. In particular we were interested to see what are apparently the first potential figures for the fee for opting a European patent out from the exclusive competence of the Unified Patent Court (the “opt-out fee”). These comments came from someone who is presumably familiar with the matter, Kevin Mooney of the Drafting Committee for the Rules of Procedure of the UPC.
According to the conference report:
- The opt-out fee is according to Paul Van Beukering (Chair of Preparatory Committee of the UPC) only meant to cover admin costs. Kevin Mooney (Chairman of Drafting Committee for Rules of Procedure of the UPC) apparently later suggested that the opt-out fee is likely to be somewhere in the region of 50-100 Euros.
- Local divisions are being considered in UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy
- Regional divisions being considered include Czech-Slovakia, Scandanavia and Baltic States, and Eastern Europe
- There is a possibility that Dutch national phase filings from PCT applications are to be opened up again
- Margot Fröhlinger (Principal Director Patent Law and Multilateral Affairs at the EPO) suggested that lower fees for SMEs are not very likely.
Mark Richardson 20 February 2014
Margot Fröhlinger also said that EPO is not planning for a fee for registration for unitary effect of European patents!
Thanks Wouter! This is also supported in the EPO’s draft Rules for Unitary Patent Protection (link below) – it seems that the EPO thinks a fee for registration for unitary effect would be too much hassle, and a deterrent to potential users.
Is forcing someone to pay a fee for NOT having something which he has NOT requested a kind of steal?
No, it isn’t!
Ok, so what is it?
Am I the only one who thinks the ‘opt-out’ is a disgrace and shouldn’t be allowed? Either the patent is valid in which case the proprietor should be happy to use one court, or it is invalid in which case it is in the public interest that it be removed as quickly as possible!
Big companies should not be able to keep competitors at bay by forcing invalidation actions in numerous countries. There may be concerns about the Unitary Court, but for the general good everyone should start using it soon so any problems get ironed out. Allowing opt-outs for the foreseeable future rather defeats the object of a unitary system.
The patentee not having realised their patent would be subject to a Unitary Court is not a strong reason in my opinion. The same is true of the Patents Country Court, infringement opinions at IPO, and not so long ago US hearings at the Federal Circuit. I have some sympathy for a small UK company, none for a multi-national or non EU patentee.