Innovation in the European Union (“E.U.”) has been lagging behind innovation in the United States for many years. Many European business leaders have cited the cost of obtaining a patent, the complexity of navigating the patent process, and the lack of uniform patent enforcement as causes of the slow growth of European innovation. The European Patent Office (“EPO”)—the E.U.’s governing patent body—recently announced significant changes to make patenting in the E.U. less expensive and less complex.
On December 17, 2012, twenty-five E.U. member states—which counts for most, but not all of the E.U. member states—banded together to enact two regulations for the purposes of creating a unitary patent and agreeing on the languages required to obtain a unitary patent. Approximately two months later, most of the same countries adopted a third provision establishing a Unified Patent Court. This paper discusses specific provisions within the three agreements, and some of the broader effects these agreements will likely have throughout the E.U.