Today marks an important day for innovation in Europe. Today, the Unitary Patent starts to become reality.
It has been a long and difficult way to get here: almost 50 years of discussions, and a decade since the Unitary Patent was agreed. Today, with a sufficient number of Member States now having ratified the legal instruments, the provisional application can start, paving the way for the full launch of the Unitary Patent within the next 12 months.
Europe is home to some of the world's leading innovations. If we want to continue on this path we need to give our European companies, and in particular our SMEs, the right tools to protect their inventions and capitalise on their intellectual property.
The new Unitary Patent system will achieve exactly this objective, as it will provide a one-stop-shop for the registration of patents in Europe, lower the costs for patent protection, and increase legal certainty by making it easier to enforce patents in the participating Member States in a centralised manner.
This will benefit all companies, and in particular SMEs. For instance, a Unitary Patent covering a territory of potentially up to 25 Member States will cost less than €5,000 in renewal fees over 10 years, instead of the current level of around €29,000. The Unitary Patent will also reduce the gap between the cost of patent protection in Europe compared with the US, Japan and other third countries.
Patents are the most potent intellectual property tools with a particular strategic importance in a knowledge-based economy. However, we witness today a shift in patenting activities, with an increasing number of patents originating in non-EU countries.
The Unitary Patent is a decisive step to enhance EU innovation and competitiveness in key strategic fields and to support the green and digital transformation of the EU. We are making sure that our intangible assets - our ideas and inventions - are safeguarded and lead to tangible progress.