A few days ago I was in Rome to meet with Simona Vicari, Italy’s Under Secretary of State to the Ministry of Economic Development. I was there to discuss the unitary patent following the Italian government’s decision in July to request officially participation in the scheme. The country’s accession is in the process of being verified by the European Commission but confirmation is expected to be a formality and is reported to be imminent.
I am delighted with these latest developments which represent another vote of confidence in the unitary patent and broad recognition of the benefits that it will bring. Among those who are set to benefit the most are in particular the SMEs who are the backbone of the Italian economy and for whom the low renewal fees will be especially welcome. During my recent meetings in Rome with representatives of the Italian government, industry and research institutions, I was greatly impressed by the high degree of mobilisation around the unitary patent. In the government and the user community, there is a wide recognition of the benefits that it will bring not just to the enterprises themselves, but to the economy as a whole.
Italy’s accession will also render the unitary patent more attractive to companies from other European countries and from across the globe. The Italian market is the fourth most important in the European Union both in terms of GDP and population. It is also an important country for European patents. On average, European patent holders validate their patents in three to four countries and Italy is the fourth most designated country, with a validation rate of 44% at present.
I am convinced that given the positive and pragmatic attitude I encountered in my meetings with government representatives, Italy will also accelerate the ratification of the Unified Patent Court in order to ensure that the unitary patent will become a reality in 2016. In many countries, the same process of ratification is underway and the EPO will do its best effort to provide its technical expertise for impact studies and cost estimations if required and in order to help Parliaments take a more informed decision.
These analyses show that this new specialised judicial framework is expected to bring very positive outcomes in terms of legal certainty and accessibility. This is why, following the recent ratification by Portugal, eight Member States have already completed the process. I am therefore convinced more than ever that our goal of full implementation of the Unitary Patent in 2016 is realistic.
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