Agreement establishing a Unified Patent Court signed by Lithuania


2013 02 19


Today, 19 February, Minister of Economy Birutė Vėsaitė signed the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court at the Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels (Belgium). The EU Member States who are Parties to this Agreement seek to establish a Unified Patent Court and set common rules for patent litigation in Europe.

According to the Minister of Economy, the establishment of the Unified Patent Court is an important step forward towards the development of a common patent protection system EU-wide aimed to contribute to global strengthening of the EU’s competitiveness and enhancement of innovation.

“Businesses will be given the opportunity to better protect their inventions; the conditions will be created to more efficiently  protect the patented innovative products which were created in the EU and exported to other EU countries; complicated litigation cases concerning issued European patents will be settled more rapidly and efficiently as parallel litigation on the same patent issue in the courts of several Member States as well as divergent decision making will be avoided; the cost of patent litigation will be reduced, “Minister of Economy Birutė Vėsaitė said.

This Agreement only covers European patent litigation (including also new European patents with unitary effect) while litigation cases concerning the patents of the Republic of Lithuania issued by the State Patent Bureau and effective exclusively in Lithuania will continue to be dealt with in the Lithuanian courts.

The headquarters of the central unit of the Unified Patent Court will be located in Paris (France), separate divisions of the central unit of the Court will operate in Munich (Germany) and London (United Kingdom) where some litigation cases will be dealt with taking into consideration the peculiarities of the patented invention or technology. Moreover, regional and local divisions of the Court will be allowed to be established. The EU Member States which have signed the Agreement will choose on whether to establish a local division of the Court or be part of the regional unit along with other EU Member States in the region, or maybe refer the litigation cases to the central unit of the Court.

The Agreement will enter into force following its ratification by at least thirteen EU Member States, including the UK, France and Germany, in which the most of the European patents have become effective in the course of the previous year. 
In the EU Competiveness Council discussion on better regulation of the internal market, Minister of Economy Birutė Vėsaitė stressed the need to increase transparency. According to Minister Vėsaitė, each Member State needs to inform about the existing and the newly introduced restrictions on access to the market for business as well as publicly motivate the proportion of the restrictions in question. Moreover, better application of mutual recognition in the EU is also necessary when a commodity or service regulated under the national law needs to be given access to other EU Member State markets as being in conformity with the EU law. The Minister also added that this would be especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses dealing with export.

In Brussels, Minister Vėsaitė met with Commissioner Michel Barnier responsible for the internal market and services and Malcolm Harbour MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, and discussed possible agenda issues under the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In 2012, the total number of patents published by the European Patent Office (the Office) reached 65 700 (5.8% more than in 2011). 

With the entry into force of the Unified European patent system the patents will become automatically effective in Lithuania. About 60 thousand of the European patents are planned to be issued every year with the annual fees to be collected by the Office. The Office will allot half of the collected fee amount to the Member States, including Lithuania.
Following the existing European patent issue procedure, approximately 1 thousand of the European patents become effective in Lithuania every year (the number was 1 176 in 2012, i.e. 7% more than in 2011).

Along with Lithuania, the Agreement was signed by 23 other EU Member States, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxemburg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Germany.