After a series of debates spanning around forty years, the EU has finally approved the new unitary patent system as of the 19th February 2013. By means of the Unitary Patent, innovators no longer have to register for patent protection in each member state individually. Although Italy has signed the agreement, it has declared that it will not be making use of this system. Spain have opted out entirely from the system and have not even signed while Bulgaria has not signed, citing that it wishes to resolve internal administrative matters before it joins the system.
Poland has decided to opt out of the system as well citing that it would have a grave negative impact on their economy. Regardless, they declared that they would consider joining in the future if circumstances were to change.
The EU has decided to employ a system whereby there will be three separate courts regulating patent related matters. These will be divided according to the area of science the patent relates to. The main headquarters will be set up in Paris with a London court taking sight of matters related to life sciences (biology, medicine, pharmaceuticals etc.) and a Munich court hearing matters related to physics and engineering.
The system is now being set up, however it remains to be seen what progress will be made until 2014 in getting the whole system fully operational.