Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What if UK exits EU? An IP Perspective

Despite the referendum, United Kingdom (UK) is still a member of European Union (EU). As a member of EU, UK still enjoys unified IP laws and protection throughout EU. If UK exits EU, UK would most likely lose the benefits of EU established IP protection.

1) Trademarks, Designs and Plant Variety
Community trademark (now known as EU trademark as of 23 March 2016), community design and community plant variety can be filed and enforced throughout EU member states. If UK leaves EU, the geographical scope of EU granted protection will be reduced to EU member states minus UK.

2) Patents
UK is a member of European Patent Convention (EPC) which is independent of EU. Norway, Switzerland and Turkey which are not members of EU are also members of EPC. UK will most likely remain as EPC member. However, UK may not be part of unitary patent implementation as EU membership is prerequisite for unitary patent.

3) English as official language of EU
EU free trade agreements with US and Asian countries are conducted in English. Currently, English is one of the official language for European patent. Will English be maintained as one of the official language of EU? English may have less influence in Europe due to widespread influence of French and German language. We hope that EU would not reduce the usage of English language as the rest of the world communicates in English.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unitary (European) Patent

On 11 December 2012 the European Parliament voted positively in a first reading on the EU Council's compromise proposals for two draft EU regulations on a unitary patent for Europe. The draft regulations were accepted under the EU's legislative procedure of "enhanced co-operation": With the exception of Croatia and Spain, 26 EU member states have embarked on enhanced co-operation with a view to creating unitary patent protection for their territories.

The regulations entered into force on 20 January 2013. However, they will only apply from the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.

The European patent with unitary effect ("unitary patent") will be an another option for users besides already-existing national patents and classical European patents. A unitary patent will be a European patent granted by the EPO under the provisions of the European Patent Convention to which unitary effect for the territory of the 26 participating states is given after grant, at the patentee's request. The unitary patent will thus not affect the EPO's day-to-day search, examination and granting work.
However, the EPO will take on a number of additional tasks. For example, it will administer patentees' requests for unitary effect. It will also be responsible for collecting, administering and remitting renewal fees for unitary patents and for keeping a register of unitary patents which will include legal-status information such as licences, transfers, limitation, revocation or lapse.

As regards the translation arrangements for the unitary patent, it was decided to use the EPO's tried and tested language regime based on three official languages, namely English, German or French. After grant of the European patent, no further human translations will be required if the patent holder opts for a unitary patent; high-quality machine translation will be available for the purpose of informing on the content of patents. -EPO

The unitary (European) patent is targeted to go into effect in early 2017. After going into effect there are four ways to gain patent in Europe:

(1) Filling national patent applications and maintaining granted patents in selected national patent office;

(2) Filling single European patent application in EPO; and maintaining granted patents in selected national patent office (current practice);

(3) Filling single European patent application and maintaining granted European patent in EPO (proposed future practice);

(4) Filling single European patent application in EPO; and maintaining granted patent in EPO and selected national patent office (proposed future practice).