26 countries agreed on distribution key for Unitary patent

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The EU Commission stated on 17 November 2015 that a major roadblock on the path to a European unitary patent was cleared when 26 EU countries reached an agreement on the distribution of revenues. It explained that although the mechanism for the patent was agreed back in 2012, the fee structure and the distribution mechanism for revenues remained open to later agreement.

A balance had to be achieved between ensuring competitiveness for our companies, setting fees that would encourage people to undertake innovate on the one hand, and ensuring the financing of quality administrative structures (the European and National Patent offices) on the other. An agreement on 24 June 2015 set a renewal fee level (equivalent to the national renewal fees of the 4 EU countries where European patents are most frequently validated) that made the unitary patent an attractive option. The latest agreement reached on 17 November 2015 fixes the distribution key for an initial period of operation: 50% of fees will be retained by the EPO (European Patent Office) while the remainder (minus an administrative charge) will be distributed among the participating countries according to a formula that takes account of the GDP and the number of applications filed from that country.

This agreement is an important step to making the unitary patent a reality as soon as possible in order to benefit from this new way for inventors and innovators to protect their intellectual property in the EU. Today, patents are awarded by national bodies and give protection in one country. The unitary patent means that just a single application is needed for a patent grant, which can then be activated in 26 countries by a simple and speedy procedure. Therefore, the unitary patent will reduce patenting costs for companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups, providing a one stop shop covering the territory of 26 EU countries. It will further strengthen support to innovative companies in Europe. 

(Altalex, 14 March 2016. Article by Emmanuel Guinchard)

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