Since the early seventies, European countries have pursued the project of creating a Unitary Patent and a Unified Patent Court (UPC). Success seemed within reach in 2013 when the International Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA) was concluded and subsequently ratified by several states. However, in 2017 the project came to a grinding halt in the biggest contracting state, Germany, when a single patent practitioner filed a complaint against the national law ratifying the UPCA.
20 March 2020, with a 5:3 majority decision, the German Federal Constitutional
Court said the Act of the Approval of the UPC Agreement was void.
to the reasoning, the manner in which the act was passed infringes the
complainant in his constitutional rights to democratic representation.
Patents would have made it possible to get patent protection in up to 26 EU
Member States by submitting a single request to the EPO, making the procedure
simpler and more cost effective for applicants. Unitary Patents would have
removed the need for complex and costly national validation procedures.
new UPC system, years in the planning but yet to become operational, foresees a
Europe-wide court system to ensure that businesses have a streamlined process
for litigating European patents through a single court – including new
high expectations were placed on the Federal Constitutional Court and its
decision, the existing system whereby European patents are enforced separately
in each member state will continue for the foreseeable future.