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Patent Gold Rush in Europe

Posted Friday, March 4, 2016 by Jim Ruttler

Europe has historically been a difficult place to register and protect inventions. Any European patent granted had to be registered in each separate country and then enforced in a country by country basis.

That is all about to change with the new unitary patent and unified patent court. The unitary patent is an EU wide (with the exception of only Spain for now) patent that can be enforced across the EU countries in one court. This new patent regime will cover about 400 million people, which is larger than the total population of the United States. Expectations are that the unitary patent and unified patent court will be fully operational in 2017, but it is possible to convert existing European patents obtained now.

Furthermore, Europe has maintained more favorable treatment toward patent owners than the United States has. In the United States, Alice and the inter partes review proceedings and the difficulty obtaining injunctions has made it difficult for innovators to protect inventions, particularly software and scientific discoveries. In contrast, Europe has a more predictable test for eligibility and courts there are awarding injunctions. Many have come to believe that Europe is a preferred destination for protecting intellectual property.

It is no surprise then that the European Patent Office has reported yet another record year for filings (5% increase in 2015 over the previous record in 2014). For U.S. inventors, this means that consideration of Europe as a patent destination can no longer be ignored.

There are tools for filing here in the United States and transitioning applications to European unitary patent applications and patents. This means that inventions that are difficult to protect here can utilize the U.S. patent office to reach Europe thereby providing the benefit of a more favorable patent regime and a larger population base.

Patent Gold Rush in Europe ›› Ruttler Mills PLLC