Why does the EU need a unitary patent?
The aim of creating an EU patent is twofold.
First, to reduce current patenting costs by up to 80%. This should improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are much cheaper.
Patenting an invention in Europe is costly because once granted, a European patent can be enforced only at national level. This may well entail translating it into the official language of the country concerned. The patent holder must also pay national validation fees and annual renewal fees. Together, these costs mean that maintaining a European patent for ten years in only six European countries can be four times more expensive than it would be in the US, Japan and many other advanced economies.
Second, to improve certainty as to the law and reduce litigation costs.
Patents on inventions with a high market value are frequently subject to litigation. Due to the lack of a unified litigation system, this leads to parallel lawsuits in different countries, sometimes with divergent outcomes. Currently, between 146 and 311 patent infringement cases are being duplicated annually in the EU member states. In 2013, this number is likely to rise to between 202 and 431 duplicated cases.