Cast your mind back to December 2012 when the Unitary Patent Regulation and Unified Patent Agreement were approved by the European Parliament, and you may recall a lot of press releases explaining what great value for money the unitary patent would be. In particular, we were told that the unitary patent would bring patent protection in Europe financially in line with patent protection in other countries, such as the US and China.
Back then, the fees relating to the unitary patent were completely unknown. Fifteen months later, we know little more than we did then: it seems likely that there will be no fee for validating a unitary patent, and rumours are that the opt-out fee will be in the region of €50 – €100, but we are still in the dark when it comes to the most important fees of all: the renewal fees of the unitary patent. The only titbit that has recently escaped the lips of anyone in the know came from the EPO president, who said cryptically in December 2013 that the renewal fees would be “higher than many would hope, but lower than some might fear”.
The level at which the renewal fees are set will be key in determining whether the unitary patent can deliver on its promise of value for money. The Select Committee responsible for setting the renewal fees must balance on the one hand the need to keep the unitary patent financially attractive to industry, and on the other hand the need for the unitary patent to be self-financing. The second part of this equation is difficult for us to assess from the outside. The first half, however, is susceptible to a bit of speculation.
So, in this post, which will feature a lot of graphs, we will be taking a look at how value-for-money (in terms of renewal fees) differs among countries within the EPC and how the EPC and Unitary Patent countries currently compare to the US and China, and we will consider what level the Unitary Patent fees might need to be if they are to match the value-for-money offered by Chinese and US patents. We’re even going to go so far as to put out a prediction. We fully expect to be proved completely wrong, but hope that throwing out some actual numbers might generate some interesting discussion from commentators…
Last week IPcopy wrote about a draft paper from the legal working group of the preparatory committee that discusses the European Patent Litigation Certificate and the other “appropriate qualifications” that are mentioned under Article 48(2) of the Unified Patent Court Agreement and are required for EPAs to have rights of representation at the UPC.
At the time of writing last week’s article the draft paper was not online but this changed over the weekend when the Twitter user @EPpatent posted a link to a Google docs copy of the paper. The draft paper can be found in our article European Patent Litigation Certificate (& other appropriate qualifications) which has been updated.
While you are checking out the draft paper, take a look at some of the comments on the earlier post, especially the one from IP Frog!
Mark Richardson 10 March 2014
The 16th draft of the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court has been published and can be found here (16th draft of Rules of Procedure). Helpfully the latest draft has been prepared as a marked-up document which means the amendments are easy to spot.
There’s a fair amount of red lined comments in this draft which IPcopy will take some time to digest. However, a few points of interest are noted below.
Back in September we reported on the result of the Magmatic v PMS case in which the Trunki faced off against the Kiddee Case at the High Court before the Hon. Mr Justice Arnold. At the High Court, PMS’s Kiddee case was found to infringe Magmatic’s Community Registered Design (CRD) for the Trunki.
However, PMS were given leave to appeal the case, and in January the case was heard in the Appeal Court before Lord Justice Moses, Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin. The judgement has just been made available, and reveals that the Appeal Court reversed the High Court’s judgement, and ruled that the Kiddee case did not, in fact, create the same overall impression as Magmatic’s CRD, and so did not infringe. IPcopy takes you for another ride through the suitcase-animal fair…
Back in January this year CIPA and the IPO held a joint open meeting to discuss the issue of representation before the Unified Patent Court. This is a very important topic for patent attorneys and the CIPA/IPO meeting explored whether UK patent attorneys (who are EPAs) would have rights of representation at the UPC or whether additional qualifications would be necessary. IPcopy’s reports on this meeting are at the following links – Part I and Part II.
Last week an article went up on the Law Society Gazette asking “Who can act in European patents?” and reference was made in this article to a draft paper that has recently been produced by the legal working group of the preparatory committee. IPcopy had not seen this paper (or even heard of its existence) but the author of the Law Society article was kind enough to provide us with a copy. [Update: a copy of the draft paper has now appeared online and can be accessed here. 10/3/14]
In our view, if you are a European Patent Attorney, then this report does not make for happy reading. If the views expressed in the CIPA/IPO meeting are anything to go by then this seems especially the case if you are an EPA and UK patent attorney. IPcopy summarises the main points of the draft paper below. (more…)
Along with all the other preparations that are required to implement the unitary patent package in the various participating member states, rumblings are often heard regarding the potential location of the local and regional divisions of the Unified Patent Court. This week IPcopy has heard/seen material relating to a potential local division in Ireland and also the possible setting up of a regional “Nordic-Baltic” division in Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania (Thanks to reader Hans van de Heuvel for the heads up regarding the Nordic-Baltic news). (more…)
Following the recent adoption of the Agreement of the Unified Patent Court by the French National Assembly comes news that the French President, François Hollande, has now promulgated the law by signing off on the text in Paris on 24th February 2014.
The Intellectual Property Bill is still awaiting a date for the Report stage in the House of Commons. One of the parts of the Bill that got a lot a discussion time was, of course, Clause 13 which introduces criminal sanctions for the copying of registered designs.
One point of discussion in relation to Clause 13 was its possible expansion to include unregistered design rights. This is something that ACID (Anti-copying in Design) in particular is keen to see happen. IPcopy would prefer that Clause 13 wasn’t in the Intellectual Property Bill at all but the registered design sanctions of the clause appear to be here to stay. However, extending the clause to cover unregistered designs would, in this ipcopywriter’s opinion, be a disaster.
Recently, the IP Federation has issued a policy paper on this issue and they have the following to say on the matter: (more…)
The Lego movie. Is. Awesome. And certainly much more fun than revising for the EQE pre-exam, which is what I probably should have been doing with my Saturday afternoon (here’s hoping the claim analysis section is all about co-operable building blocks). There are thrills; there are spills; there’s some beautifully poignant humour. It’s the Matrix meets Toy Story 3.
Enough advertising: the reason I get to write about the Lego Movie here is that there’s a delightful little patent sub-sub-sub-plot involving Lego Batman. Which gives me the perfect excuse to assess the IP reference for our IP Hit or Miss series, in the interests of IP education, you understand. The potential ‘spoilers’ are so minor as to be barely worthy of the word, but if you don’t want to see a few paraphrased words from the movie, you may wish to look away now.