The historic accomplishment of a seamless EU patent and intellectual property space

European Parliament. Lex Signing: European Unitary Patent Package. Martin Schulz, EP President (on the right) and Andreas Mavroyiannis, Cypriot Minister for EU Affairs, representing the then Cypriot rotating Presidency of the Council, signing the European Unitary Patent Package. (EP Audiovisual Services 17/1/2/2912).

European Parliament. Lex Signing: European Unitary Patent Package. Martin Schulz, EP President (on the right) and Andreas Mavroyiannis, Cypriot Minister for EU Affairs, representing the then Cypriot rotating Presidency of the Council, signing the European Unitary Patent Package. (EP Audiovisual Services 17/1/2/2912).

The last building block was laid to its place yesterday, accomplishing the construction of the seamless EU commercial patent and intellectual property protection space and the function of the Unified Court. The relevant regulations will be in force as from 15 January 2015. It has to be reminded that in December 2012, an agreement was reached on the so-called “patent package” – a legislative initiative consisting of two Regulations (the “Unified Patent Regulations”) and an International Agreement (the “Unified Patent Court Agreement” or “UPC Agreement”), laying the foundations for the creation of unitary patent protection in the EU.
As the European Sting writer Elias Lacon noted on 20 February 2013 “Once the Agreement enters into force, the signatory countries will form a unified area in terms of patent law and court rulings. Since the 1970s, the EU member states have been in agreement on the necessity of setting up a common system of patents. Today this became possible”.

The Unified Patent Court

The Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence, replacing national courts, for the matters governed by the UPC Agreement, in reference to litigations on intellectual property and commercial patents. The establishment of the UPC was made possible through “enhanced cooperation”, an EU procedure that sidesteps unresolved differences between member states. If 11 EU member states long for an agreement, they can enforce it in their territory, without the consent of the rest of Union countries. On 19 February 2013, during a Council of the European Union meeting, twenty-two member states opened a new page in the history book of the EU, by signing the international agreement establishing the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Yesterday the Greek Presidency of the Council reached an agreement with the European Parliament, paving the last part of the road leading to the adoption of the Regulation on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of UPC judgements on intellectual property and commercial patent matters. The Regulation can be adopted at first reading after the formal voting in the European Parliament and in the Council. This is the amended Regulation No 1215/2012, also called the Brussels Regulation, clarifying the operation of the rules on jurisdiction with respect to the Unified Patent Court and the Benelux Court of Justice. In addition, it defines the application of the rules on recognition and enforcement in the relations between member states which are and member states which are not signatory parties of the above mentioned international agreement.

From the 1970s to 2015

After 15 January 2015, when the entire “patent package” will be in force, a “unitary patent” will be a single patent which does not require validation or translation into languages of other participating member states. Neither does it need to be administered in each and every state – there will be only one single jurisdiction. The Unitary Patent system will greatly facilitate the acquisition and the protection of a commercial patent all over the territory of 26 EU member states, at the exception of Italy and Spain. In this way even the SMEs will be able to secure an EU commercial patent. The aforementioned two countries have opted out from this new EU Patent and intellectual property arrangement for linguistic reasons. Court litigations and the ‘unitary patent’ will be operational only in a few EU languages, Italian and Spanish not included.

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