Upcoming advantages for China with the new EU Patent System

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Chinese inventors, who wish to protect their Industrial Property in the European Union, will have a great benefit after the entry into force of the new “Agreement on the establishment of a European Union patent, or Unitary Patent”1 which sets a new regime more favourable for patents registration and protection.

The new legal framework will guarantee an easier process, cheaper and ultimately safer from a legal point of view. Additionally, the rules for the protection of patents will be more effective than current systems in protecting the inventions of individuals and firms.

The mentioned new system ushers in an Unified Patent Court 2 whose creation, by means of a Patent Court Agreement which must be ratified by 13 European Member States (including Germany, England and France), is a condition sine qua non for the implementation of the Unitary Patent. So far, eight countries have ratified the “Agreement” (including France, Denmark and Belgium) and three or four are close to finalize the ratification.

The above said Patent Court will have jurisdiction over Unitary Patents but also over European Patents governed by the rules of the “European Patent Convention”3 signed in 1973.

This Court of First Instance will be located, depending on the topic, in Munich, London and Paris. Additionally, a Court of Appeal will be based in Luxembourg, a Training Centre for judges in Budapest, and a Patent Arbitration and Mediation Centre in Lisbon and Ljubljana. Moreover, there will be a Common Registry with sub-Registries.

Unitary Patents will be easier to register. All the preparatory work for issuing an Unitary Patent will be submitted to the European Patent Office instead of registering the Patent Rights at the National Patent Offices in each signatory Country.  In addition, all the required registration’s documents must be written in one of the three working languages of the European Union (German, English or French) and translate into another one of the 24 official languages. This step not only reduces costs of translations to other languages but it also makes the whole process run faster. Large and medium companies, which used to validate Patent Rights in many countries in Europe, would highly benefit by this procedure.

Another remarkable advantage of the Unitary Patent Agreement is that Patent’s owner has the possibility to licence the use of the Patent Right in some Countries with a single procedure, while keeping the use of the Patent Right in others. However, for the transfer of the Patents Rights, by the mere fact of conceding the right to one party of one signatory Country, it produces effect in all Members Countries of the Agreement (twenty-five).

The new regime will provide automatic Unitary Patent protection in all 25 member states, slashing costs for Chinese firms and hence boosting their competitiveness. “In 2014 alone, applications from China in Europe surpassed 26,400 accounting for 9 percent of the total and placing China fourth among sources of patents filing with the European Patent Office”4. There is a clear progress in the collaboration between China and Europe in this field which is still improving. The framework Five Intellectual Property 5 made up of the world’s largest IP offices from China, Europe, the United States, South Korea and Japan, is another example of success, which illustrates joint effort in the protection of IP law. Taking this examples in mind will contribute to a better global patent system.

1.- REGULATION (EU) Nº 1257/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17th December 2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection. 2.- Agreement on an Unified Patent Court on 19th of February 2013. 3.- Revised version of the Convention on the grant of European Patents on 13 th December 2007. 4.- Benoit Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office. Symposium in Beijing on 28th November 2015. 5.- The five IP offices (IP95) is the name given to a forum of the five largest intellectual property offices in the world that was set up to improve the efficiency of the examination process for patents worldwide.

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