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The long-awaited opening of the Unified Patent Court in June 2023 promises a far-reaching shake-up in the IP landscape in Germany, which is among the busiest patent litigation venues in the world. Early indications show that companies are making use of the sunrise period to opt out some of their most prized intellectual assets, but with 17 EU member states participating in the unitary patent, it is likely that the benefits of a consolidated approach to patenting will prove irresistible to patentees and challengers alike. However, one obstacle remains in the way of widespread buy-in from the pharmaceutical industry: the lack of any supplementary protection certificate (SPC) equivalents for the new unitary patents. Firms based in the country have already unveiled a plethora of strategic partnerships, in an effort to position themselves at the forefront of the new system. Vossius has joined forces with leading Dutch firm Brinkhof, while British-German outfit EIP gains ground in France, thanks to partnership with Amar Goussu Staub. Additional French-German combinations include the patent attorney networks of Santarelli and Meissner Bolte, who also boast a growing attorney-at-law practice. On the prosecution front, domestic filing at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) remains busy, though domestic-origin filings declined by 2.3%. German-based companies filed some 37,194 applications in 2022, plus another 20,020 from abroad, representing a 6.8% increase from the previous year. The office conducted 45,498 examinations, leading to 23,592 grants. The top sector by the numbers is transport, declining by 1.6% year on year for a total of 10,329 applications, while the grouped electrical machinery, apparatus and energy sectors increased by 1.9% to reach 7,317 applications. Robert Bosch GmbH was the top applicant, with 3,946 applications, followed by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, with 1,867, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG, with 1,394. The Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), on the other hand, has drawn sharp criticism from the industry for prioritising efficiency over quality. The office denies the claims, even as its staff union echoes industry concerns. It remains to be seen what actions the office plans to take in response.
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