Bonum Certa Men Certa

FFII: Unified Patent Court is 100 Times More Expensive and an SME Killer, Europe is Committing an Economic Suicide

By Benjamin Henrion, original licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

On justice deniedBrussels, 31 october 2021 — FFII says the proposed Unified Patent Court is an SME killer with its super-expensive court fees of 20.000EUR. No small company will be able to defend itself if it is accused of violating a patent, the proposed UPC court fees will deny access to justice for small companies, the cost being 100X more expensive than the current situation in the different countries.



The claim that the Unitary Patent makes the system better for SMEs is a gigantic lie. Europe is committing an economic suicide by making sure the Court is not accessible to small companies.



Last week, business assocations members of BusinessEurope from Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Czech Republic refused to endorse a call to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). Those business associations mostly share the same position that the UPC court fees of 20.000EUR (validity) and 11.000EUR (infringement) are way too high, and will deny access to justice for SMEs:



“The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic thus demands […] to reduce the court fees, especially the fee for patent abolition’s proposal, which is set at 20 000 euros. If a subject wants to abolish an EU patent on the territory of the Czech Republic now, the fee is approximately 200 times lower.”

— SPCR.CZ: The proposed level of fees is too high for the Czech companies, the Confederation states https://www.spcr.cz/en/23-aktualne/statesment/8743-confederation-on-the-unified-patent-court-fees


This is also the analysis of the Portuguese Association of Consultants in Intellectual Property (ACPI):



“UPC rules are unbalanced in favor of patent holders and costs of European patent litigation in the UPC will be very high and unaffordable for companies resident in Portugal, jeopardizing the right to a fair and equitable process.”

— ACPI: Patente Europeia de Efeito Unitário e Tribunal Unificado de Patentes violam princípios básicos da UE e prejudicam empresas Portuguesas http://www.acpi.pt/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ConclusoesVIForum.pdf


The same position is also shared by the Spanish Confederation of Employers and Industries of Spain (CEOE):



“Litigation under the UPC will be unaffordable for SMEs. Just have a look at the very high court fees that have recently been proposed by the UPC Preparatory Committee. The fee for invalidation, for example, would be 20.000 euros. On top of that, you have the costs of lawyers, translations, etcetera.”

— Kluwer Patent Blog: Despite the defeat at the CJEU, Spain will not join the Unitary Patent system http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2015/06/17/despite-the-defeat-at-the-cjeu-spain-will-not-join-the-unitary-patent-system/



Even worse, in some countries small companies can call for Legal Aid if they don’t have the means to pay the expensive lawyers fees, and the UPC has scrapped that support for SMEs, and restricted to physical persons only (individuals). For example, in Austria, legal aid is available for small companies.



Benjamin Henrion, President of FFII, says: “The Unified Patent Court court fees of 20.000EUR will prevent small companies to defend themselves, especially against patent trolls, which have most of the time very weak patents. The argument that the UPC is ‘cost-cutting’ is a giant lie and does not fly if a simple case is 100X times more expensive than a national case. Court fees in most member states are between 80EUR and 600EUR, except for Germany.”



He finishes: “Like for the European Electricity Crisis, Europe is designing a patent court system which is the most expensive, a disaster for small companies that will be denied access to Justice.”



References






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