The unitary patent proposal has been floating about for years, under various names, but it seems to now be getting dangerous. I don’t know all the details of the current situation and I haven’t found a satisfying overview, so I’ll point you to a list of pages and then discuss some general aspects that seem to still be true from when I previously worked on this.
[UPDATE: There now more info at http://endsoftwarepatents.org/unitary-patent]
The best three links come from April, the organisation most active on this:
- unitary-patent.eu -a website about this issue
- The amendments they currently propose
- April’s wiki page about the unitary patent
They also have a useful list of links in the "additional resources" section at the end of call.unitary-patent.eu
My own efforts, which I’ll have to update and expand, are on the ESP wiki:
In general, the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court are two parts of a project from the European Commission which will have three effects:
First, it creates an EU court which is controlled by the European Patent Office (EPO) and will approve the EPO’s legally invalid software patents.
Second, it increases the power of the EPO by rubber stamping the EPO’s patents, without the EU even having any control over the EPO.
And third, it makes litigation faster, cheaper, and more lucrative by allowing patent holders to seek damages and blocks for all participating countries. More efficient litigation is promoted by the European Commission as a good thing. For some fields of product development this might even be true (I don’t know), but for software this will bring EU into the same mess as the USA. The EU already has a lot of software patents, but the costliness of the patent system discourages litigation.
I’ll try to write an explanation of the details in the coming weeks.