Ministers in the Council of the European Union have at the beginning of March (on March 4th) endorsed the compromise agreement on the European Commission’s proposal to complete the legal framework for Europe-wide patent protection, updating existing EU rules on the jurisdiction of courts and recognition of judgments (IP/13/750). It is the last missing part for the establishment of a Europe-wide patent protection. It is part of a package of measures recently agreed to ensure unitary patent protection in the Single Market (IP/11/470).
“By making changes to the rules on recognition of judgements, we are taking a further step on the way to the new Unified Patent Court beginning its work,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner and Internal market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier on March 4th “Today’s endorsement by Ministers confirms the commitment by Member States to set up the Unified Patent Court as quickly as possible and make unitary patent protection in the EU a reality. It is of crucial importance for Europe’s competitiveness and growth that our businesses and innovators benefit from patent protection at a lower cost.”
After Ministers reached a general approach at the December Justice Council (MEMO/13/1109), the European Parliament now needs to vote on its report in plenary, which is expected at the latest in April 2014. The Commission is also encouraging Member States to ratify the Unitary Patent Court Agreement as quickly as possible, and to complete the preparatory work required for the Court to become operational accordingly, so that the first unitary patents can be granted in the shortest possible timeframe.
The Agreement relies upon the “Brussels I Regulation” (Regulation 1215/2012) to determine international jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court. The Commission has therefore proposed On July 26th 2013 an amendment to the Brussels I Regulation to clarify how its jurisdictional rules will work in the context of the Unified Patent Court, as well as how the rules of the Regulation should be applied in relations between the Member States, Parties to the Unified Patent Court Agreement and the Member States not party to the Agreement. This amendment has not however yet been passed by the European Commission.