Europe 18 Mar 2014
Legislative changes are being considered to adapt Swedish law to the Unitary European Patent System and the unitary patent court. Therefore, the Swedish government has submitted a draft bill in respect to the unitary patent protection in the EU to the Council on Legislation for review and ratification.
The draft bill “Unitary Patent Protection in the EU”, submitted on January 30th, 2014, proposes legislative amendments necessary to adapt Swedish law to the unitary patent protection system and a unified patent court. The legislative amendments will enter into force at a later date, most likely sometime during 2015. The intention is that the amendments should be complete when the unitary patent system becomes applicable in Sweden. Furthermore, a couple of changes to the law are being presented concerning priority and translations, which aims to increase legal certainty for patent owners.
At present, the patent system in the EU consists mainly of the national law of the member states as well as the European Patent Convention (EPC). The European Patent Office (EPO) grants European patents under the European Patent Convention. These European patents take effect with the payment of a fee that the patent applicant makes for each country separately (i.e. validation), and in many countries it is also required for the applicant to submit a translation of the patent application.
A dispute concerning a European patent may be considered by courts in different countries, albeit with the risk of different rulings in each individual case and shifting practices between countries. Today’s system is relatively expensive and complicated for anyone wanting to apply for, defend or challenge a European patent in several countries.
The new system to be more efficient
As a result of a deepened collaboration between several EU member states a unitary European patent system that will grant unitary patents may now be introduced. This will mean that an applicant through a single procedure may obtain a patent that covers the whole of the EU, except for a few countries that do not participate in the collaboration. In addition, it will be less expensive.
Also, with the creation of a unified patent court, which in principle is exclusively competent for litigation on European patents, it is hoped that it will create the conditions for a unified patent practice. The unitary patent system would also involve simplifications and greater legal certainty for users of the system.