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European Unity Patent: A blessing for companies?

by Michael Klein, Director of Sales at Anaqua

Patent experts came together earlier this month to speak about the future of the European patent system against the background of this development at an event in Munich, organized by the German Association of Medium-Sized Enterprises (BVMW) and sponsored by Anaqua Germany. Present entrepreneurs, company representatives and patent attorneys were able to gain exciting insights into the advantages and disadvantages of the various patent procedures.

At the beginning of the panel discussion, Philipp Nordmeyer from the Munich patent law firm df-mp gave a short introduction on patents followed by the greetings of Achim von Michel (State Commissioner for Politics at BVMW Bayern) and Michael Klein from Anaqua – an international manufacturer of patent management software solutions. Nordmeyer emphasized how important it is for companies to think about the countries in which their own patent should apply. This is because the patent applications in different countries are always associated with costs such as the annual fees for the patent. Therefore, entrepreneurs should consider in advance what the relevant markets are for them, and where their competitors are sitting, who could mimic their idea, Nordmeyer said.

Unitary Patent May Be Possible in 2018

Subsequently, Dr. Stefan Luginbühl from the European Patent Office gave an overview of the concept of the European Unitary Patent, which theoretically could become effective next year. A new option to the existing European patent would simplify the European-wide protection, as fees and translations no longer have to be paid for all individual countries, but the EU patent applies after single registration in almost all EU states. In addition, a newly created unitary patent court would be competent in disputes. But for that, first of all, the ratification of the related agreement by Great Britain and Germany is required. Only then can entrepreneurs profit from the free registration of intellectual property rights with effect in many European countries. The annual fees would be less than 5000 euros for the first ten years quite entrepreneur friendly, so Luginbühl. Moderated by Wulf Höflich of the AKLAW Patent Attorney’s Office, the more than 30 guests present were able to ask specific questions about the unitary patent after the presentation.

Demand for a Medium-Sized Patent System

Dr. Heiner Flocke, Chairman of the Association Patent Association, presented the closing lecture about the middle-class perspective on the patent system. He criticized the middle class despite its great innovation potential and said its largely a “patent-free zone”, since the vast majority of patents are submitted by large companies. Medium-sized companies therefore need their own patent strategy against the overwhelming attacks of patent owners, which can hit medium-sized companies hard, according to Flocke. After all, these attacks are not always justified and the patents of the big companies are unequivocally valid. It is estimated that as many as 30 to 50 percent of all patents do not stand up to scrutiny. Therefore, there is still much room for reform of the patent system, which should protect small businesses more, so Flockes concluding conclusion.

Finally, speakers and guests – including representatives of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA), numerous patent law firms and medium-sized entrepreneurs – had a conversation during a get-together and discussed open questions from the attendees.