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The changing face of Europe’s patent landscape (Market intelligence)
These are momentous times for the European patent system. Change is in the air both at the European Patent Office and in the wider world.
The patentability of software and business methods in Europe (Market intelligence)
The debate on the patentability of computer programs and business methods is rooted in the general objectives of the patent system. The patent system is traditionally grounded in an assumption that a time-limited monopoly over the exploitation of a certain innovative process or device rewards inventors for their creative effort and encourages innovation and thus technical progress. This general assumption is the foundation of each national and transnational patent system.
Cost of patent disputes (Market intelligence)
The recent ratification of the London Agreement on Translations will reduce the costs of obtaining patent rights in Europe by reducing translation requirements. However, it will remain the case that once a patent is granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), it will become a bundle of national patent rights in each of the European countries that the patentee designates; it is not a single pan-European patent. If the patentee then wishes to enforce those rights, it will need to bring proceedings in each of those European territories in which the infringer is operating.
The effects of EPC 2000 (Market intelligence)
The EPC 2000 is the result of a comprehensive revision of the European Patent Convention of 1973, agreed at a diplomatic conference in November 2000. It represents the first major revision of the EPC and came into force on 13th December 2007.
Austria (Market intelligence)
A patent holder may initiate civil or criminal proceedings before the Austrian courts, seek a declaratory decision from the Austrian Patent Office and obtain customs measures. Civil proceedings may be initiated based on the Patent Act for patent infringement (claims for preliminary and permanent injunctions, destruction, information on supply sources, rendering of accounts, payment and publication of the judgment).
Belgium (Market intelligence)
Patent holders’ options to enforce their rights in Belgium were recently enhanced as a result of the entry into force of the Acts of 9th and 10th May 2007, transposing EU Directive 2004/48/EC on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, and the Act of 15th May 2007 providing for criminal penalties in case of the infringement of intellectual property rights.
Croatia (Market intelligence)
According to Article 108.e of the Patent Law and the Law on Amendments to the Patent Law, a European patent designating Croatia, as from the date of publication of grant, shall have the same effects as a national patent, provided that a request for validation of the European patent is filed within three months of the date of publication of grant. Therefore, the owner of a European patent which has been validated in Croatia has the exclusive right to use the protected invention and to forbid the unauthorised use by third parties of the patented product or process.
Czech Republic (Market intelligence)
Under Article 35c of Act 527/1990 Coll on Inventions and Rationalisation Proposals (the Patent Act), a European patent designating the Czech Republic has the same effects as a patent granted by the Czech Patent Office in accordance with the Patent Act. The owner of a European patent therefore has the exclusive right to use the invention, to authorise others to use the invention and to assign the patent to others.
Denmark (Market intelligence)
Once a granted European patent has been translated into Danish and validated in Denmark, it will have the same effect as a national Danish patent (except that it does not cover the territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), and the patent holder may use several legal remedies to stop any infringing actions.
Finland (Market intelligence)
A European patent designating Finland and validated in Finland affords the same rights as a national patent. The owner of a European patent can: Send cease and desist letters; Apply for a preliminary injunction or a judgment; and Obtain, by right, certain evidence regarding the infringement.
France (Market intelligence)
The holder of a European patent designating France enjoys the same rights as a French patent holder.
Germany (Market intelligence)
A European patent designating Germany affords the same rights as a German patent. In particular, the holder of a European patent can choose to: Send a cease and desist letter; Apply for a preliminary injunction or a decision on the merits; Obtain evidence of infringement (only to a certain extent, however); and Obtain border seizures.
Greece (Market intelligence)
A European patent has the same effects in Greece as a national patent granted by the Greek Industrial Property Organisation, provided that the patent holder files with the Greek Industrial Property Organisation a certified translation of the patent within three months of publication of the decision to grant the European patent. Therefore, a European patent holder enjoys the same level of protection as a national patent holder and can seek to enforce its rights exclusively through the channel of civil litigation. European patent applicants can also enjoy provisional protection in Greece, as long as they file a certified translation of the patent claims into Greek.
Hungary (Market intelligence)
A European patent has the same effects as and is subject to the same conditions as a patent granted by the Hungarian Patent Office (HPO). A European patent is considered granted when notice is published in the European Patent Journal. The patent’s effect is subject to filing of a Hungarian translation of the European patent with the HPO within three months of grant. Should the patent owner fail to file the Hungarian translation, the patent shall be regarded as ineffective in the territory of Hungary.
Ireland (Market intelligence)
The holder of a European patent may bring civil proceedings to enforce its rights in Ireland. Ireland has transposed into national law the EC Directive on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, which harmonised enforcement procedures throughout the European Union. Thus, the holder of a European patent can expect to have similar enforcement remedies available to it in Ireland as in other member states.
Italy (Market intelligence)
Interim relief is the most efficient way to enforce patent rights in Italy. If the patent holder can satisfy the evidentiary requirements sufficient to enforce its patent in Italy (ie, if the infringement is strongly supported by sound evidence), the best option is to apply directly for interim measures notably, a preliminary injunction and/or seizure (see also question 10 below).
Netherlands (Market intelligence)
The owner of a European patent designating the Netherlands can initiate a court action in the event of the unauthorised manufacture, use or sale of the patented product in the Netherlands. The transit of goods through the Netherlands can also be prohibited on the basis of patent infringement.
Norway (Market intelligence)
To enforce its rights, a European patent holder can choose between applying for a final injunctive order or an interlocutory order. The same court will normally be competent to decide both cases since, as a rule, the court where the defendant has its place of business is the legal venue for either action. Under the new Civil Disputes Act, in ordinary actions the district court will hear the case within six months of the date on which the action was commenced and will return a judgment within two to four weeks of the hearing. Interlocutory injunction actions may be expected to move faster, but in most patent cases a ruling will not be obtained earlier than four to eight weeks after the petition is filed with the court.
Poland (Market intelligence)
The holder of a European patent in which Poland has been designated, and which is effective in Poland, enjoys basically the same rights as the holder of a patent issued by the Polish Patent Office under the national route. The exclusive rights may be enforced by the patent holder or they may be assigned to third parties.
Slovak Republic (Market intelligence)
According to Article 63, paragraph 1 of Slovak Act 435/2001 Coll on Patents, Supplementary Protection Certificates and Amendment of Some Acts as Amended (the Patent Act), a European patent has the same effect as a patent granted by the Slovak Patent Office. Thus, the owner of a European patent has the exclusive right to use the invention, to authorise others to use the invention, to assign the patent to others and to abandon the patent.
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