FAST welcomes arrival of Unified Patent Court in London

Move promises to assist SMEs in the protection of their Intellectual Property

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has welcomed news of the introduction of the Unified Patent Court’s Central Division in London, suggesting that it promises to aid access to the mechanisms which help to support Intellectual Property (IP).

Business Secretary Vince Cable has finalised a deal for a new patent court to be based in London. The new court and patent system will create a one-stop shop making it both easier and cheaper for companies to protect their business inventions in Europe.

FAST’s General Counsel, Julian Heathcote Hobbins, has welcomed the news, suggesting that it represents a significant step in the Government’s on-going positive agenda and a welcome development for those who create patented technology which requires significant upfront investment and conviction of belief in the product.

“Securing finance for innovation is tough and depends upon a strong and accessible IP regime. Those developing innovative technical solutions need the ability to secure and enforce registered rights without undue barriers. Traditionally patents gained in more than one European Country have been costly to secure and enforce and arguably only the budgets of the larger rights holders have been able to endure. Technology SMEs and micro businesses who can patent inventions made from software-plus-kit need realistic access to patent protection in order to underpin the chances of IP for growth success. However it is possible that such a development could cut both ways, as a micro tech business could be on the end of a pan European injunction. Only time will tell as the costs of using the new system are yet to be made clear.”

Larry Cohen, an IP Litigation Partner at Latham & Watkins and member of FAST’s Legal Advisory Group (FLAG) said: “This is a big step forward, although as there is an opt out mechanism for patentees, take up may be slower than desired. Amongst hoped-for advantages are that the procedures of the unified court will take the best of the Continental and British systems, lowering litigation costs while widening coverage, and that the need to oppose grant early by an opposition in the EPO may diminish significantly as patents will be able to be revoked on a pan EU basis (except for opt out countries) only when enforcement is threatened.”

FAST’s new CEO, Alex Hilton, concluded: “It’s vital that the industry can go forward with commercial certainty in creating products where their investments are protected and properly rewarded. We must work to support the software industry, and bolster the creative industries at large, to fuel employment and encourage growth through the development of the IP asset base.”

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