Yesterday, November 19, 2012, the European Council announced that it has reached final agreement on the European Union’s proposed Unitary Patent System. This announcement follows the EU’s historic agreement of June 29, 2012 and frees the European Parliament to vote on and implement the new system, which establishes a lower cost patent process with EU-wide enforcement jurisdiction. The next steps are largely procedural – the agreement is expected to be approved by Parliament and the EU member states during 2013, with the first “Unitary Patents” to be issued and Unified Patent Court to be set up by April 2014. Spain and Italy have challenged the legality of the new system under EU law, and the European Court of Justice is expected to rule and uphold the new system on December 11, 2012.
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