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On 19 February 2013, after 40 years of negotiations, 24 EU ministers (except Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Poland) finally signed an international agreement establishing a Unified Patent Court (UPC). It will enter into force once it has been ratified by 13 countries.
The creation of a European court specialised in patent matters is the third and last component of the “patent package”, a legislative initiative including two EU regulations (one on unitary patent protection and the second on the translation arrangements), which were adopted in December 2012 and entered into force on 20 January 2013. Together, these three components provide the legal basis for the implementation of a unitary patent system in Europe.
Up to now, the existing European patent consisted of a bundle of national patents with no single jurisdiction for disputes, turning the process into a lengthy and costly one. Obtaining a European Patent through the Unitary Patent system will be less complex and reduce the cost of patent litigation, creating additional incentives for companies to invest in research and development. Even though at first glance this only looks like competition policy, it could give a major boost for the easy exploitation of research and innovation results.Irish Presidency website Council of the European Union European Patent Office