European member states have signed an agreement to pave the way for the introduction of an Unitary Patent Court.
The agreement was signed in Brussels by 24 EU members and will come into effect following ratification by 13 members (including France, Germany and the UK). The specialised court will hear first instance and appeal disputes relating to European patents. It is hoped that the unified court will
provide specialist expertise and streamline European
patent litigation which is often conducted in a number of national courts which hear infringement and invalidity issues in parallel.
Once up and running, the unified court has potential to significantly reduce the costs of enforcing, and testing the validity of, European patents.