For more years than anyone can remember, it has been recognised that patents are one of the barriers to free trade. If you have a free trade area like the European Union, surely it would be sensible to have patents that cover all of it or none of it, so once goods were on the market you wouldn’t have to worry when they cross the internal barriers as you do now. First of all it was going to be a Community Patent governed by its own Convention. Back in 1978, when the EPO and the PCT began, it only seemed a matter of time before they were joined by the Community Patent, but hope died as constitutional problems arose. It only became more difficult as the Community expanded into the ever enlarging European Union. The latest rebound of hope has come in the form of a unitary patent which would cover some but not all member states of the European Union. This time, it was not just a patent but a matching Unified Patent Court. The court almost became real – it has rules. It has fully fitted court rooms and it has a website where you can read more about the proposed system.
Unfortunately like so many of the previous dreams, there have been wake-up calls. First there was Brexit and the probability that the United Kingdom would no longer be eligible to remain a party to the agreement. Next there came a constitutional challenge in Germany, so now Germany cannot ratify. For more information on the German Constitutional issue see this blog post.
Despite the fading dream, the European Patent Office which will grant the Unitary Patent, if it ever becomes available, has published a Guide to Obtaining, Maintaining and Managing Unitary Patents. The August 1st edition may become a collector’s item in the libraries of science fiction. However, while there are major industries that believe in the unified patent Court the dream may not yet be over. For UK businesses, Filemot strongly recommends you get yourself a UK patent which can be enforced in our Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.