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Unitary patent vs. Czechia and Slovakia – What is (not) changing for foreign proprietors of european patents?

Unitary patent vs. Czechia and Slovakia – What is (not) changing for foreign proprietors of european patents?

As of 1 June 2023, the unitary European patent system has come into effect. With it, a brand-new institution – a Unified Patent Court (UPC) – will start its activities. It is the biggest change in the area of patents in decades. Many speak of a European patent revolution. However, not all EU countries will participate in the system. What should foreign applicants of European patents for the territory of the Czech Republic and Slovakia take into consideration?

Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia participate in enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection. Both countries have also signed the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court. But the Agreement remains to be ratified. However, both countries are waiting with it.

As a result, the unitary patent will not be valid for the territory of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, nor will the Unitary Patent Court have jurisdiction for these territories. Thus, the traditional European patent regime that has been in place so far will apply in its entirety.

Therefore, if anyone would like to secure patent protection in the Czech Republic and Slovakia under the European unitary patent system, it will have to validate the granted European patent in these countries, including submitting official translations.

For translations, as before, we still recommend turning to verified and trustworthy partners, as it often happens nowadays that poor quality translations narrow patent protection and the possibilities to enforce patent rights adequately. In our own practice, we have witnessed several "clumsy" and disadvantageous translations for the patent owner.

Patent strategies and patent rights enforcement

This fact should be kept in mind and included in the formulation of patent strategies for the territory of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Waiting of the Czech Republic and Slovakia with ratification of the Unitary Patent Agreement has, for example, the following consequences:

  1. foreign patent applicants will need to use the services of local patent attorneys for the validation of European patents (patent prosecution);
  2. the services of trusted local legal counsels will also be required for patent rights enforcement in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (IP litigation); this also applies to any interim measures, damages or cooperation with customs authorities in the fight against counterfeit products;
  3. similarly, even if patent holders in the Czech Republic or Slovakia enforced their rights against your foreign clients, you would need local Czech or Slovak legal counsels to represent your clients as defendants in local courts (the Unified Patent Court will have no jurisdiction here);
  4. accordingly, if foreign entities wanted to challenge the patents of their competitors already granted and validated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they would need to use the services of local legal counsel to initiate proceedings for revocation or limitation of the patent before the local patent office.

Before initiating any proceedings in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it is therefore advisable to consult local experts who know local practice and case law, so they can recommend to you an appropriate strategy.

Your partner for international IP protection

As the largest Czech-Slovak law firm with an international reach, HAVEL & PARTNERS has one of the largest teams of lawyers and patent attorneys (HERE) specialising in patent law and other areas of intellectual property law.

We will be happy to assist and support you in any patent case or any other case related to intellectual property or any other field.

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