Unifying Europe's patent systems
- Note: As of March 2014, the EU unitary patent and Unified Patent Court are the focus. This article contains historical information.
This page is for discussing the general concept. European politicians have been discussing the unification of the national patent systems since the late 60s. The names keep changing as new proposals replace old proposals, so this page is a general overview. Information on specific proposals can be found at:
- EU patent and Unified Patent Court - current proposal (in two parts), previously called the Community Patent
- United Patent Litigation System (UPLS)
- European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA)
- London Protocol
There are also narrower efforts at unifying international patent systems.
 No changes to substantive law
The creation of a unified court system does not involve changing the legislative definition of what is patentable - no changes to "substantive" patent law. Based on this, politicians deny that there will be any change regarding software patents.
The actual dangers come from side effects related to redistributing power from democratic entities toward entities which have shown a lust for expansive patenting:
- Many of the proposals suggest that the judges should be "experts in the field", which would mean many of them would be ex-patent lawyers, which is the most pro-software-patent of all demographics.
- Some proposals even give the European Patent Office power over the proposed court!
- This was already done in the USA, with the creation of the CAFC patent appeals court in 1982, and the result was a court which allowed ever broader patents, including software patents and business method patents.
- By making litigation cheaper, and by giving broader scope for damages and application of decisions, we could face a steep increase in patent litigation, including that of software patents.
 Procedural and democratic problems
By reducing the number of translations to one (just English) or three (English, French, German), the current plans all create the problem that people in countries which don't speak these languages are put in the position where they can violate patents (i.e. break the law) without ever having been able to read what they're supposed to not do.
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- Machine translation of patents
- Software patents exist in Europe, kinda
- Pro-patent bias in courts
- unifying international patent systems
- The Proposed Unified Patent Court for Europe: conditio sine qua non for a Unitary Patent or unavailing venture into the unknown?, 15 Aug 2012, William Bull (on Patently-O)
- German original: Europe-wide court system for patents (English translations[?]: Google, bing translator)
- EU Patent: Advocates General Suggesting To 'Rise The Bar' In a Different Way, 24 Aug 2010, IPJur - ECJ rejects centralised court proposal as "incompatible with the treaties"
- Spanish Government Knocking Down Compromise On EU Patent Languages Regime, 10 Nov 2010, IPJur - The Spanish government is standing up for democracy and rejecting a situation where Spanish citizens would be bound by legal documents written only in foreign languages
- Harmonisation of Intellectual Property in Europe, 1998, by Philip Leith
- "Building and enforcing intellectual property value". http://www.buildingipvalue.com/07EU/p.160-163%20Dorsey%20&%20Whitney.pdf. "The industry-based driving force behind the EPLA comes from the pro-software patent group as a way of ensuring that their software or potential software patents are fully enforceable across Europe."
- (in French) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X3o2aCYmSo
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