The “Enhanced European Patent” or some long-waited-for answers on the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent by the Select and Preparatory Committees.

The Unified Patent Court Preparatory Committee and Select Committee recently released an explanatory note on the “Enhanced European Patent System” detailing the purpose of the future Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent and the key points on how this major patent reform will articulate itself with the existing European and National patents and existing jurisdictions.


The UPC Blog has extensively posted on the Unified Patent Court competence and procedure, on the nature of the unitary effect and the general overview and background of both the UPC (Unified Patent Court) and the UP (Unitary Patent). It is however the first time that the committees (see our posts on the Select committee and the Preparatory Committee) involved in the setting up of the UPC release an explanatory note.  It is thus the first time that clarifications rather than interpretations are made about the UPC agreement. This post will focus on three key points of the UPC explanatory note, which bring some explanations to the cacophony of information published so far, without nonetheless answering all the questions.


Before looking at these three substantial points, it is important to start with the reassertion from the Select and Preparatory Committees that the Unitary Patent directly derives entirely from the European patent, which provides the shell onto which the unitary effect hooks up. So to obtain a Unitary patent an applicant must first apply for a European patent at the European Patent Organisation, which will handle the application in accordance with the European Convention. It is only after grant that the proprietor of a European patent will have the opportunity to apply for unitary effect.  However if for a European patent it is necessary for the patent holder to validate the patent in each Member state where protection is required, for a unitary patent a single request will give protection in 25 Member States of the European union. (More information on the unitary effect here)


The rest of the explanatory note is divided between the UPC and UP, and deals with important questions such as the geographical extension, the general competence of the UPC and the transitional period. The UPC Blog by Lavoix raised in previous posts the problems of legal uncertainty attached to these three topics, we will thus look here at the response of the Select and preparatory Committees. (See Discussion posts on “Opt-out and legal certainty” “The impact of Article 83 UPCA on the applicable law” and “UPC and Infringement actions”)


The Geographical extension of the Unitary Patent:

The unitary effect of a European patent will cover the territories of the contracting member states that have ratified the UPC Agreement at the date of the registration of the unitary effect of the individual patent. The explanatory note however makes clear that the geographical perimeter of validity of the unitary effect will not extend following the progressive ratification of the UPC Agreement after the registration. Rather, it will stay the same until all the contracting member states ratify the UPC Agreement. It is only then that European patents registered thereafter will enjoy unitary effect in all participating member states. As for Spain, Italy and Croatia which are not participating in the UP and Poland which is participating but has not signed yet the UPC Agreement, it will be possible for the proprietor of a European patent with unitary effect to choose to validate the patent as a classical European patent.  In addition, it will also be possible to validate the same patent as a European Patent in the ten contracting states of the European Patent Organisation that are not EU Member States. (For more information on the contracting member states and Italy and Spain’s positions).


The UPC general competence:

On the general competence of the UPC, the explanatory note makes clear that the UPC has exclusive competence “in respect of civil litigation on matters relating to classical European patents, European patents with unitary effect, supplementary protection certificates issued for a product covered by such a patent and European patent applications”. The UPC will not however have any competence for national patents or supplementary protection certificates granted for a national patent (see our post on supplementary protection patents).

The UPC’s rulings will have effect in the territory of the contracting member states that will have ratified the UPC Agreement.  The exclusive competence of the UPC will also apply to the decisions of the European Patent Office in “carrying out the tasks of administering the Unitary patent set out in the Unitary patent regulations”.


The Transitional period: (For background information on the transitional period see here) 

The UPC Agreement provides for European patents a period of seven years, renewable for another seven years, during which they will co-exist with UP’s. However, as it is made clear in the explanatory note, the transitional rules will not apply for European Patents with unitary effect.  The transitional period will only apply to European patents or Supplementary Protection Certificates issued for products protected by European patents. For those European patents, the competent forum during the transitional period will be either the UPC or the existing national courts. So unless an action has already been brought before the UPC, actions for infringement or for revocation concerning European patents or for a Supplementary Protection Certificate issued for a product protected by a European patent may thus still be brought before national courts.


The Opt-out is, too, detailed and explained. Hence, “during the transitional period, a proprietor –or an applicant for- a European patent granted or applied for prior to the end of the transitional period or a SPC issued for a product protected by such a patent will also have the possibility to opt out the patent/application/SPC, from the jurisdiction of the UPC unless an action has already been brought before the UPC. To this end they shall notify their opt-out to the Registry. The opt-out shall take effect upon its entry into register. It will be possible to withdraw such an opt-out at any time. There will be no possibility to opt-out European patents with unitary effect.”  In respect of the opt-out the Select and Preparatory Committees list three benefits of the UPC justifying not opting-out: “a unified jurisprudence resulting in increased predictability and the avoidance of panel litigation; judgments (injunctions, damages) with effect in 25 Member states of the EU; the expectation of speedier procedures than in many of the individual Member States”.


It is important to observe however that this explanatory note does not answer central questions such as the possible dual competence between the UPC and national jurisdiction under articles 32 (1) and 83 (1) of the UPC Agreement, the types of actions that would stop a patent proprietor to opt-out or the risk of lis pendens. The UPC Blog will deal with each of these issues in posts to come.


You can of course look at the UPCA here and the draft rules of procedures here.


EU Legislation and Unitary Patent

 Which EU legislation provides for Unitary protection?

The European patent with unitary effect relies upon three separate pieces of legislation (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court).


More related EU legislation can be found in the Sources pages.

The Transitional Period and the Opt-out

Supplementary Protection Certificate


I. The transitional period:

The UPC Agreement provides for a transitional period of seven years, which may be prolonged up to a further seven years by the Administrative Committee on the basis of a broad consultation with the users of the patent system and an opinion of the Court.

During the transitional period the following options will be possible regarding European patents without unitary effect:


  • · A proprietor of – or an applicant for – a European patent granted or applied for prior to the end of the transitional period will have the possibility to opt out the patent/application, unless an action has already been brought before the UPC. To this end they shall notify their opt-out to the Registry. The opt-out shall take effect upon its entry into the register. It will be possible to withdraw such an opt-out at any time as stated in Article 83.3 of the UPC Agreement


There will be no possibility to opt-out a European patent with unitary effect.



II. The Opt-out system in details:


(A) The opt-out system and its relationship with the European Patent and the European Patent with Unitary Effect:

  • The Opt-out and the European bundled patent:

Pursuant to Article 83.3 of the UPC Agreement the possibility to opt out concerns a European patent granted or applied for before the end of the transitional period. That means that the opt-out once notified and registered takes effect for the entire European bundled patent for all Contracting Member States where this patent has been validated. There is no need to notify the opt-out separately for the relevant Contracting Member States.

  • The unity of application and the Opt-out system:

The unity of an application and of the patent, in case of several applicants or several proprietors, is a basic principle of patent law as reflected in particular in Article 118 of the European Patent Convention. This means that applicants or proprietors of one single application for a European patent or one single European patent will have to act in common to exercise the opt-out.

  • The Opt-out and the UPC’s jurisdiction:

Once an opt-out has been notified and registered the UPC does not have any jurisdiction any more with respect to the European patent or the application for the European patent concerned. The patent or application will be subject only to the jurisdiction of the competent national courts.

  • The Opt-out system, the European patent and the European patent with unitary effect:

If an opt-out has been notified and registered with respect for an application for a European patent, the opt-out continues to apply to the relevant European patent, once granted. An opt-out once notified and registered normally remains in force for the entire life-time of a European patent, unless the proprietor withdraws the opt-out pursuant to Article 83.4 of the UPC-agreement.


(B) Registration of Opt-out by the UPC’s Registry:

  1. Opting-out fee:

The Contracting Member States in the Preparatory Committee have not yet decided if there will be an opting-out fee.

       2.Registration of the opt-out:

In the interest of legal certainty for both the proprietor or applicant and third parties, it will indeed be important that the opt-out is entered into the Registry and becomes effective on the day the notification of the opt-out is received by the Registry. The Contracting Member States and the Preparatory Committee do still have to look into the necessary arrangements to achieve this.


(C) Opt-out and the choice of forum during the transitional period:

Pursuant to Article 83.1 of the UPC Agreement during an initial period of seven years after the entry into force of the UPC Agreement any proprietor of a European patent or any applicant can initiate proceedings, in particular infringement proceedings, before national courts, regardless of whether the European patent or application concerned has been the subject of an opt-out.

But will it be possible to initiate a revocation action in the UPC if someone else has already initiated an infringement action before the national courts? It will normally be possible for a party to initiate a revocation action before the UPC even if the proprietor of the European patent has initiated an infringement action before a national court. If the proprietor of the European patent wants to avoid a revocation action before the UPC he needs to make use of the possibility to opt-out from the jurisdiction of the UPC.


Opt-out and legal certainty

A few weeks ago the UPC Blog was asked these questions « How is the UPC going to ensure legal certainty between the entry into force of the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the moment European patent holders or holders of a European patent with unitary effect obtain -for those who wish- an opt-out?” “ What happens when you rely on one of these patents which are under national jurisdiction until the entry into force of the UPCA (Unified Patent Court Agreement), and then go back to national jurisdiction after the opt-out?


The Opt-out is definitely one of the most challenging area of the UPCA, and we have in this blog been paying a particular attention to this subject -you can find more information about the Opt-out here– and in this post we will focus on the relationship between the opt-out, legal certainty and the rights of prior users.


As explained in our previous posts, the opt-out will be available to European patent holders during the transitional period, which will start after the entry into force of the UPCA and will last for seven years (art 83.1). This transitional period might be renewed for a further seven years if the Administrative Committee considers it after consultation necessary (art 83.5).


Once a European patent holder has decided for an opt-out, it will need to be notified and registered. The opt-out will become effective on the day the notification of the opt-out is received by the Registry, provided that the opted-out patent is not the subject of a pending litigation. The Contracting Member States and the Preparatory Committee however still have to look into the necessary arrangements to achieve this. The opt-out will then be effective for the lifetime of the patent except if the patent holder withdraws the opt-out pursuant to art 83.4 UPCA, provided that no action has been brought before a national court.


It is here necessary to differentiate between the transitional period and the opt-out period. In fact if patent holders can only opt-out of the UPC jurisdiction during a renewable period of seven years, the opt-out will on the other hand last for as long as the patent exists.


But which rules will govern the use and/or infringement acts of an EP which happened prior to the opt-out? How is legal certainty maintained between the entry into force of the UPC Agreement and the notification and registration of the opt-out? In fact there might be for some European patents a moment where they fall under the UPC jurisdiction until the patent holder decides and registers the opt-out, putting them back under national jurisdiction. How then is fairness ensured for prior users of European patents?


Article 28 of the UPCA clarifies this situation for prior personal use: “any person, who, if a national patent had been granted in respect of an invention, would have had, in a Contracting Member State, a right based on prior use of that invention or a right of personal possession of that invention, shall enjoy, in that Contracting Member State, the same rights in respect of a patent for the same invention.” Hence, prior user rights will be governed by national law, which will thus ensure legal certainty in that domain independently of a potential opt-out.


Moreover, it is important to note that the same is true with prior uses of an invention patented through a European Patent with Unitary Effect. In fact, following article 2 of the UPCA “patent” refers to both a European patent and a European Patent with unitary effect.


Now an uncertainty remains for the qualification of infringement acts that occurred prior to and after the opt-out. Indeed, although the definition of the infringement acts under the UPCA (article 25 and 26 UPCA) is very similar to that of the national laws of the Contracting States (eg article L. 613-3 French IP Code), it is not identical and national case law differs from one country to another. The uncertainty stands from the fact that pending the opt-out the alleged infringers should assess their risk by reference to the applicable provisions of the UPCA taking into consideration the fact that if they were to sue for infringement this would occur before the UPC and not before the national courts. In the event the patentee decides an opt-out than the alleged infringer’s assessment of his risk is flawed.


This risk is inherent to the opt-out possibility that the Contracting States have decided to offer to EP holders. One issue which does not seem to have been contemplated however is whether the national courts which would have to rule on the infringement of an opted-out patent would have to apply the UPCA rules for the period of time prior to the opt-out and the national rules for the infringement acts that occurred after the opt-out. For instance, the statute of limitation might differ (eg, Austria infringement claims must be brought within three years from the date the right holder obtains knowledge of both the infringement and the identity of the infringer whereas the UPCA states at article 72 that “(…) actions relating to all forms of financial compensation may not be brought more than five years after the date on which the applicant became aware of the last fact justifying the action.”). This subject will however be treated in more depth in a later post, soon to be published.


The UPC Blog awaits your comments and questions on this post and on any complementary topic.



The UPC General Competence:

Supplementary Protection Certificate


I. Sources of the Law and substantive Patent Law:

(A) The UPC’s sources of Law:

As stated in Article 24 of the UPC Agreement, the UPC will base its decisions on Union law, The UPC Agreement, the European Patent Convention  (EPC), other international agreements applicable to patents and binding on all the Contracting Member States and national law.

(B) Determination by the UPC of prior national rights and prior user rights:

Prior user rights will, pursuant to Article 28 of the UPC Agreement, be governed by national law. Anyone who has prior user rights in a Contracting Member State with regard to a corresponding national patent will enjoy the same rights in that Contracting Member state in respect of a European patent or a European patent with unitary effect.


II. General Competence:

(A) The different types of actions the UPC will be competent to hear:

The UPC will, as a general rule, have exclusive competence in respect of civil litigation on matters relating to European patents, European patents with unitary effect, and supplementary protection certificates issued for a product covered by the UPU and European Patent. The exclusive competence is however subject to exceptions during the transitional period.

The area of exclusive competence of the UPC is specified in Article 32 of the UPC Agreement. Among other things it includes actions for actual or threatened infringements and related defenses, actions for declaration of non-infringement, actions for provisional and protective measures and injunctions, actions for revocation and counterclaims for revocation.

The UPC will also have exclusive competence in respect of actions concerning decisions of the European Patent Office in carrying out the tasks set out in Regulation 1257/2012 on Unitary Patent Protection. National courts will remain competent for actions that do not come within the exclusive competence of the UPC.


(B) The UPC Court of First Instance’s competence:

Article 33 of the UPC Agreement contains a detailed description of the competence of the divisions of the UPC’s Court of First Instance. The court of first instance will thus be competent for:

  • Actions for declarations of non-infringement. The central division will however suspend the case if an infringement action related to the same patent between the same parties is initiated before a local or regional division.
  • Actions for revocation of a patent (including counterclaims for revocation referred by a local/regional division).
  • Actions for the grant or revocation of a compulsory license.
  • Actions on compensation for licenses.
  • Actions against defendants domiciled outside the territory of the contracting state.


C/ The UPC local/regional division:

The UPC local and regional divisions will be competent to hear:

  • Infringement actions.
  • Actions for damages or compensation for provisional protection conferred by a published patent application.
  • Actions for provisional and protective measures and injunctions.
  • Actions relating to prior use rights.

For damages or compensation derived from provisional protection and/or prior use, the action shall be brought before the:

1)    local/regional division where the infringement has occurred; or where the defendant has residence or place of business,

2)    If the defendant has no residence or place of business within the Contracting Member States: the local/regional division where the infringement has occurred or before the central division.

3)    If the concerned Contracting Member State has no local/regional division: the central division.


D) Counterclaims for revocation/ Bifurcation:

When an infringement action is pending before the local/regional division and a counterclaim for the revocation of the patent at issue is made, the local/regional division will have four options:

  • Parties may also agree to bring actions before the division of their choice, including the central division.
  • It may proceed with the both the infringement action and counterclaim for revocation (and if appropriate request the appointment of a technically qualified judge in the field of technology concerned)
  • It may refer the counterclaim for revocation to the central division and then either suspend or proceed with the infringement case (similar to the German bifurcation case)
  • It may refer the entire case to the central division, upon the parties’ agreement.

The second option is referred to as bifurcating the questions of infringement and validity. This may however result in a pan-European injunction for a patent later found invalid.


(E) The role of the Court of Justice of the European Union:

The UPC will be a court common to the Contracting Member States. It must respect and apply European Union law and together with the Court of Justice of the European Union ensure its correct application and uniform interpretation. The UPC will in particular have the same obligation as any national court to request preliminary rulings in accordance with Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


(F) Oppositions to the European Patent Organisation and parallel proceedings before the UPC and the EPO:

Oppositions at the EPO will still be possible. A party shall inform the UPC of any pending revocation, limitation or opposition proceedings before the EPO. The UPC may stay its proceedings when a rapid decision may be expected from the EPO, as stated by Article 33.10 of the UPC Agreement. The Court may also of its own motion – or at the request of a party – requests that opposition proceedings before the European Patent Office be accelerated in accordance with the proceedings of the European Patent Office, as stated in Rule 298 of the draft Rules of Procedure of the UPC.




The Unitary Patent: The unitary effect, its construction, legal nature and conditions of obtaining.

(A)  The construction of the unitary effect:

As Professors Jean Christophe Galloux and Bertrand Warusfel explain in their article  “The Unitary Patent and the future Unified Jurisdiction[1]”, the UP is a “unionist graft transplanted on the European patent”. The legal mechanism is in fact quite simple: the Convention on the European Patent governs the acquisition of the European patent until it is delivered. The European regulations adopted on 17th December 2012 and published on 31st December 2012 then govern the unitary patent.

Regulation 1257/2012 describes and explains the unitary protection and unitary effect in the following words[2]:

Unitary patent protection should be achieved by attributing unitary effect to European patents in the post-grant phase by virtue of this Regulation and in respect of all the participating Member States. The main feature of a European patent with unitary effect should be its unitary character, i.e. providing uniform protection and having equal effect in all the participating Member States. Consequently, a European patent with unitary effect should only be limited, transferred or revoked, or lapse, in respect of all the participating Member States. It should be possible for a European patent with unitary effect to be licensed in respect of the whole or part of the territories of the participating Member States. To ensure the uniform substantive scope of protection conferred by unitary patent protection, only European patents that have been granted for all the participating Member States with the same set of claims should benefit from unitary effect.” (Emphasis added)

The temporary protection of the European patent is given to this patent until the publication of the European patent and the delivery of the unitary effect.



 (B) The legal nature of the unitary patent:

As explained in Regulation 1257/2012, the UP is not a new intellectual property title but a new legal attribute given to an already existing title, the European patent:

“The unitary effect attributed to a European patent should have an accessory nature and should be deemed not to have arisen to the extent that the basic European patent has been revoked or limited.[3]

It is in fact not the result of a specific procedure of delivery and does not have a specific time limit. The condition of its annulation and its revocation moreover, derive entirely from the Convention on the European Patent and national laws, ant not from EU law.

The unitary effect delivered to a patent has hence « an accessory character [4]», i.e. the unitary effect can be extinguished without the European patent disappearing, and the European patent can be granted without the unitary effect.



(C) The conditions of obtaining the unitary effect:

The deliverance of the unitary effect necessitates three cumulative conditions:

The unitary effect must be asked by the patent owner within a month from the patent publication in the Bulletin Européen des brevets.

The unitary effect must be registered in a special register: the “register of patent protection by unitary patent”.

The European patent must offer the same protection for the different states participating to the Unitary Patent. Article 3.1 of regulation 1257/2012 in fact states: “A European patent granted with different sets of claims for different participating Member

[1] J-C. Galloux, B. Warusfel, « Le brevet unitaire et la future jurisdiction unifiée », Propriétés Intelectuelles, Avril 2013 n°47.


[4] Jean Christophe Galloux and Bertrand Warusfel

The EU Unitary Patent: Its Background and Overview.


After over 30 years of trying, the European Parliament and the Council have agreed on how to create a EU-wide patent regime to protect inventions better, cut costs and boost competitiveness.


The idea of a unitary patent valid throughout the European Economic Community was already being aired when the EEC was founded in 1957. In 1973 a “unified Community patent” was to be created by the Munich Convention, but the agreement never entered into force. After another unsuccessful attempt was the Luxembourg Agreement of 1989. In 1997, the European Commission published a Green Paper on the “Community patent”, followed by a proposal in 2000. A revised proposal was then put forward in 2004, but sunk by disagreement on language issues. The unitary patent proposal was finally tabled in 2011.

(A) The current system:

Currently in Europe it is possible to apply for a patent through three routes:

  • The National route
  • The European route
  • The international route

Under the National route, applicants can apply for a patent in one or just a few countries within Europe. It is then necessary to file the application at the IP offices in the countries for which the protection is sought. The national route leads to national rights and confer protection at national level.

Under the International route, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides a unified procedure for 137 different contracting states. A PCT application is a “placeholder application” for national filings in individual countries, which is often referred to as an international application.

Under the European route, applicants are granted European Patents for some or all of the contracting states to the European Patent Convention (EPC). They can also be extended to the current extension states[1]. A European Patent is a bundle of national patents. Under Article 2(2) EPC a European patent shall, in each of the contracting states for which it is granted, have the effect of and be subject to the same conditions as a national patent granted by all that state, unless otherwise provided by the EPC. Each of these national patents may be subject to national translation and validation requirements and legal proceedings, and must be renewed individually in each country. The European Patent Convention established a centralized procedure for granting European patents. This procedure is used to process a single patent application in English, French or German, which are the three official languages of the European Patent Organization (EPO), a non-EU body. The European Patent Office (EPO) is able to search, examine and grant patents in a single procedure for up to 38 European states under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

However, a patent issued by EPO must be validated in all the countries where protection is sought. The validation procedure entails high costs, especially for translation services, and makes EU-wide patent protection thirteen times more expensive than in the US.

This current system will however remain available, though these European bundle patents may be subject to the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) instead of the national courts of each member state. Applicants will also be able to continue to obtain national patents from the patent offices of each participating country, and go through the Patent Cooperation Treaty route.

(B) What is the aim of the Unitary Patent?

The aim of creating a EU patent with unitary effect is twofold.

First, to reduce current patenting costs. According to the European Parliament the cost could be cut by up to 80%[2].

This should improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are much cheaper. Patenting an invention in Europe can be costly because once granted, a European patent can be enforced only at national level. This may well entail translating it into the official language of the country concerned. The patent holder must also pay national validation fees and annual renewal fees. Together, according to the European Parliament, these costs mean that maintaining a European patent for ten years in only six European countries can be four times more expensive than it would be in the US, Japan and many other advanced economies. The translation requirements for the Unitary Patent will be significantly simpler and cheaper, and it will be subject to a single set of renewal fees.

Second, to improve certainty as to the law and reduce litigation costs.

Patents on inventions with a high market value are frequently subject to litigation. Due to the lack of a unified litigation system, this leads to parallel lawsuits in different countries, sometimes with divergent outcomes. Currently, between 146 and 311 patent infringement cases are being duplicated annually in the EU member states. In 2013, this number is likely to rise to between 202 and 431 duplicated cases.

The Unitary Patent also offers savings for enforcement. A patentee will in fact only need to enforce their patent in one court, rather than in multiple national courts, avoiding duplicated litigation. Moreover, a Unitary Patent will be subject to a single set of rules, as opposed to the legislation of multiple countries. To enforce or to revoke today’s European Patent may entail multiple legal proceedings in various countries. The decisions of the new patent court, by contrast, will apply in all participating EU member states.


(C) Entry into force

Regulations 1257/2012 and 1260/2012 came into force on 20 January 2013. They will apply from 1 January 2014 or from the entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, whichever is the later date. However in order for the Unitary Patent to be available 13 member states including the UK, France and Germany must have ratified the UPC Agreement, which is not expected to occur before 2015. The status of ratification for each Member State can be found here.  The European Commission will report on how the new regime is working three years after it takes effect.

(D) Countries participating

The two EU Regulations establishing the Unitary Patent were agreed using the enhanced cooperation procedure, which enabled a smaller group of EU countries to make progress. Currently 25 EU countries are participating in the Unitary Patent. Spain and Italy have so far opted out of the unitary patent package, but could join in the decision-making process at any time.

In March 2011 the Council of the European Union issued a decision authorizing enhanced cooperation for the creation of a unitary patent protection. The enhanced co-operation mechanism was set out in the Lisbon Treaty and permits nine or more member states to use the EU’s processes and structures to make agreements that bind only those countries.

Spain and Italy applied before the Court of Justice of the European Union for the annulment of this decision on 30th May 2011 and 31st May 2011 respectively, on grounds of lack of competence, misuse of powers and infringement of the treaties. The CJEU however dismissed their actions on 16th April 2013 arguing that the Council’s decision was within the boundaries of article 118 TFEU and that the decision had been taken as a last resort after the multiple unsuccessful attempts. The Court moreover rejected Spain and Italy’s argument about the Unitary Patent undermining the internal market by creating a uniform protection in one part only of the European Union. It is in fact inherent to the procedure of enhanced cooperation to create a framework only binding to Members States who have cooperated.

On 22nd April 2013, Spain lodged an application before the CJEU against the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union for two actions. It asked first to annul Regulation EU 1257/2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection for lack of legal basis, and breach of the principle of autonomy and uniformity in the application of European Union law. It also asked for the annulment of Regulation EU 1260/2012 implementing enhanced cooperation regarding translation arrangements for the unitary patent. Spain argued that the Regulation lacks legal basis and infringes the principles of non-discrimination, legal certainty, and autonomy. The Advocate General, Yves Bot, however delivered his opinion on 18th November 2014 (see our post here), and  proposed that the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed Spain’s challenge to Unitary Patent Regulations. Finally on 5th May 2015 the CJEU rejected all of Spain’s arguments regarding Regulations 1257 and 1260/2012 and dismissed both cases (see our post here for more details).

Italy has since signed the Unified Patent Agreement on 02nd  February 2013 and requested to take part in the enhanced cooperation on 07th July 2015. Its request was accepted by the European Commission on 30th September 2015.

 You can find all CJEU judgments in our final post on Spain v Council of the European Union.


[1] States recognising European patents upon request : Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.