A patent is a legal title that can be granted for any invention having a technical character provided that it is new, involves an inventive step and is susceptible of industrial application. A patent gives the owner the right to prevent others from making, using or selling the invention without permission. Patents encourage companies to make the necessary investment for innovation, and provide the incentive for individuals and companies to devote resources to research and development.
Today, (technical) inventions can be protected in Europe either by national patents, granted by the competent national authorities or by European patents granted centrally by the European Patent Office.
In 2012 Member States and the European Parliament agreed on the “patent package” – a legislative initiative consisting of two Regulations and an international Agreement, laying grounds for the creation of unitary patent protection in the EU. The patent package implements enhanced cooperation between 25 Member States (all Member States except Italy and Spain). Following the adoption of the two Regulations in December 2012, the contracting Member States will proceed with the signature and ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – the third and last component of the “patent package” setting up a single and specialised patent jurisdiction. Once the Agreement and the Regulations enter into force, it will be possible to obtain a European patent with unitary effect – a legal title ensuring uniform protection for an invention across 25 Member States on a one-stop shop basis, providing huge cost advantages and reducing administrative burdens.