Justification for a unitary patent
The objective of the present enhanced cooperation is to create a unitary patent and its associated translation arrangements. Well. But how unitary would be this patent whereas in Europe, there is already the centralised Munich Patent Office that grants patent for the whole continent?
Actually, the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich has been created on 1973 to take in charge the patent pre-granting stage. That is, it receives patent applications and examine them. According to its examinations, if the patentability criteria are fulfilled, the EPO grant an European patent. Then, this patent is split into a bundle of national patents, that are valid for each of designated country. This procedure avoids patents applicants to go through each national patent office to be granted a patent covering several European countries, along with the implied issues to have divergent opinion during the examinations.
But, since a European patent holder has actually got a bundle of national patents, she has to periodically pay renewal fees in order for her patent title to still be valid, until a maximum period of 20 years. Moreover, if a competitor introduces on the market a product or a process that is likely to counterfeit her patent, she has to sue the alleged counterfeiter before courts of each and every county.
It is therefore understandable that the patent granted by the EPO has little unitary characteristics, and that one could wish to simplify the procedure by going to a unique patent office, during the whole lifetime of the patent, and by getting rulings on potential litigations that would be enforceable throughout the whole continent.