In my comment of October 28 on the Unitary Patent I said that we still had time to learn much about it and prepare ourselves for its impact.
And this was the case. The first date given in Article 18 of Regulation No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and Council (17/12/2012) as a possible date for the entry into force of the Unitary Patent, which was the January 1, 2014, passed and nothing happened. And it seems that the second date – which is the date of the entry into force of the Unified Court – will take long to arrive.
Austria is the first country that ratified the Agreement for the Establishment of a Unified Court for patent matters and still remains the only one. Therefore there is still a long way until the provisions of the European legislation for the entry into force of the second condition governing the Unitary Patent are met.
If you were planning to visit Paris or London on the occasion of a unitary patent litigation, you’d better change your plans because this dream can take long to come true.
What has been recent news ( December 17, 2013 ) is that the European Office has lunched the software capable of automatically translating patents into the 28 official languages of the member countries of the European Convention, plus the ability to translate documents from Japanese, Korean, Russian and Chinese. This is completely free for Espacenet users, or, in other words, for everyone. We expect the European Patent Office to publish statistics on the use of this software and the degree of satisfaction of those users, because it is definitely of a great importance. We thank the EPO for including a satisfaction questionnaire to be answered precisely at the same time of getting a translation. I took a test of this software with a translation from English into Spanish and I have to say that seems to be fine. Some paragraphs are perfectly translated, and could not be distinguished from a translation by a human. Of course, if I ask for a translation into a language I do not know, I just can accept the results. We must not forget that the EPO issued a warning that these translations are intended for use in prior art reviewing and not for use in litigation. So it is the responsibility of each person how to use it. Therefore we should not put “if and buts” to this initiative, but celebrate it for what it is: a great tool.
And finally, the bad and the good news for Spain in the beginning of the year: the bad news is that after 4,405 Spanish patent applications filed in 1989 and 3,703 in 2008 , we cannot rejoice at the final balance of 2013. Whereas we are awaiting the data of December, the number of Spanish applications filed with the Spanish Patent Office is 508 less than in 2102 – exactly 2,853 – and is very unlikely that more than 300 were filed in December, if at all.
The good news for 2014 is that the company 3M – which already has a factory in our country – opened last November a research center in Spain, in which at least 40 technicians will work. We expect and we wish that the company that created the Post-it and the Scotch Brite starts this new adventure with success and contributes to increase the number of Spanish patent applications to at least the figures of 1989!. It is so sad having to say this at this stage in the twenty-first century!