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Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent: A view from abroad

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I recently attended an event which brought together expertise from different sectors to give their views and insights on the UPC and UP.

‘The EU Patent Package: Multidisciplinary and International Perspectives’ conference was hosted by KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp on 17 October 2014. The event addressed the Unified Patent Court (UPC), Unitary Patent (UP) and views on specialised IP courts.

The Unified Patent Court will be an IP court. It will have jurisdiction over many patenting issues across most of Europe, once it comes into force. The Unitary Patent will be a patent valid across 25 European states.

Academic and economic views

The discussions involved many different points of view and academic approaches. From the economics side, Bruno van Pottlesberg presented on Unitary Patent renewal fees. He discussed different views on how fee levels might contribute to a sustainable system. Renewal fees were a key topic of interest throughout the conference. Ingrid Schneider hosted an interesting session on UPC governance from the public policy perspective. The debate considered whether the UPC will lead to greater integration and a more harmonised Europe.  It also considered whether the UPC would lead to a more fragmented European policy sphere.

IP court views

Other sessions focused on specialised IP courts and lessons from international examples. The sentiment that emerged was cautious optimism. Potential benefits of the UPC included increased expertise and increased legal certainty. Potential costs focused on concerns of regulatory capture and a court that could suffer from tunnel vision. There are lessons to be learnt from other specialised IP courts.

Industry views

The final sessions considered industry views from SMEs, universities, ICT, Pharmaceuticals and Legal sectors. Eric De Gryse of the law firm Simont Braunt, described the UPC and UP as, “exciting and worrying.” Other questions remained around the practicalities of the UPC and UP in practise. A key theme that resonated from the presentations and discussion was uncertainty.

With so much still undecided, everyone is still playing a game of wait and see.

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