One of the driving forces for the conception of this new system was that it should be of particular benefit to SMEs. It is intended to bring together elements of the patent system in Europe that are currently fragmented.The UPC promises streamlined patent enforcement for owners and, on the flip-side, central revocation for third parties. The unitary patent gives the option for a single patent for en bloc coverage of up to 25 EU Member States. However, as is so common with European legislation, something appears to have been lost in the implementation of the new law – various commentators are predicting the system will actually impact negatively on SMEs. Issues such as court fees, translation costs, central revocation and renewal fees have the potential to deter SMEs rather than attract them, despite financial support provisions. So how can SMEs embrace the new system, reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls? Plan ahead Litigation takes time. It always needs money. Many SME innovators rightly consider litigation a thing best avoided, preferring instead to keep their patents as a passive deterrent to competitors. Nevertheless, you can be dragged into patent litigation whether you like it or not. The new system will potentially make accessibility to EU easier and cheaper to your competitors. That could put you at greater risk of being sued for patent infringement, with consequences such as a pan-EU injunction on sale and production of your products. For a patentee there may be important strategic considerations that require enforcement of patent rights to send out a strong message to the market and your competitors or to keep licensees happy. Advanced litigation planning means that if it arises, a considered course can be taken without the need to make rushed decisions under the pressure of deadlines or looming costs.
Read more on IP:
- How businesses can protect intellectual property when going into administration
- Brands could soon obtain trade mark registrations for sounds, smells and moving images more easily
- Having an IP strategy is not just for tech giants
Continue on the next page for details on how risk assessment should be managed and why you need to be aware of rival firms’ IP.
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