What our experts think

We asked our experts at HGF and HGF Law LLP for their views on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court - and in particular, how it might impact their sectors and clients

Electronics

David Keston, Patent Director & Telecommunications Specialist, says: "To a consumer electronics industry already threatened by non-practising entities, the prospect of a unitary patent with a bifurcated procedure is an unwelcome headache. EP validation strategies in the electronics field typically reduce translation costs by concentrating on London Agreement states - so the advertised cost benefits of the UP look unrealistic."

Craig Watson, Partner and Energy Team Leader, foresees problems for his sector with the coverage of the UP: "Norway has more oil reserves than the rest of the EU put together. Although Norway is not in the EU, a single "classical" European Patent Application prosecuted in English can cover Norway and the UK. A UP can only cover EU member countries - and not even all of them."

Pharma

Mike Nelson, Partner and Pharmaceutical Specialist, comments: "The potential for a low-cost patent covering the majority of the EU member states is undoubtedly an attractive proposition for the pharmaceutical industry. However, uncertainties in relation to the UPC, the potential for a single adverse revocation decision to remove key product protection and uncertainties on the interplay between unitary patents and SPC protection will deter uptake of the unitary patent. At least in the short term, most pharmaceutical companies will opt out, and are likely to increasingly use national filings for important patents."

Kate Taylor, Partner and Head of Life Science comments: “This is a notoriously litigious sector with classical EPs validated across many EPC territories -  a single, centrally enforceable patent seems attractive.  However, during a transitional period full specifications of UPs must be translated (expensive) and patent portfolios can no longer be actively managed by reducing renewal costs, outweighing the initial UP advantages.”

Universities/SMEs

 Vanessa Stainthorpe, Partner, manages IP Portfolios for SMEs and universities: "Given the differing legal frameworks and multiple languages in Europe, SMEs and universities face tough decisions protecting their IP. Even if the UP reduces patent costs, central attack and losing all patent coverage at once may be detrimental to licensing and future value - both of which are central to university and SME patent strategy." 

Litigation

Martyn Fish, Partner and Litigation Specialist, thinks there will be reluctance to engage with the new UPC: "Overseas patentees may welcome the court, as it allows for pan-European injunctions and significant forum shopping. For EU companies the benefits are less clear. A complex language regime, multiple proceedings and the risk of an untested procedure will result in many patentees trying to avoid contact with the new court."