Italy considers joining the unitary patent

22 May 2015

EPO President Benoît BattistelliSoon after the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed  legal challenges against two regulations forming part of the unitary patent package on 5 May, I welcomed the decisions as further justification for pressing ahead with preparations for implementing those regulations. The Court’s findings represent another cleared hurdle in a process whose goal is clear: the creation of a European patent with unitary effect that reduces costs and administrative burden upon businesses.

Legal certainty has been confirmed for both the regulation on the creation of unitary patent protection and the regulation governing the applicable translation arrangements. As a result, I hoped that all those parties involved would gain a renewed confidence in the unified patent package and, if any still held reservations, that their doubts would be dispelled.

There have been indications that the Court’s decisions have indeed proved encouraging to our partners. We see now that Italy, who is at this point a signatory to the Unified Patent Court only, has indicated a potential shift in its support for the unitary patent itself. Overtures have been made from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development that joining the unitary patent is now a priority.

The inclusion of Italy in the UPP would be welcomed by myself and the EPO, as well as by other signatory states keen to capitalise on the package. For those states, the addition of an important and mature market would reinforce the evident attractiveness of the whole system. For Italian innovators, and especially the numerous SMEs set to profit from reduced costs and administration, the advantages would be evident and materialise quickly. They would be able to compete with their European counterparts, endowed with the same set of tools that can be used to protect their intellectual property in European and national markets.

While we expect that the regulation will be subject to further debate in some European countries that are now reassessing their position on the matter, I welcome the fact that the issue is being discussed in forums such as Italy’s Interministerial Committee for European Affairs. It signifies that those concerned with bolstering their economic development are willing to discuss and recognise potential benefits for signatory countries.

This is a crucial moment in the process of establishing a European patent with unitary effect. My hope is that the momentum continues and that other countries who have traditionally expressed some doubts about the legal feasibility of the unitary patent will reconsider and recognise the gains to be made from this regulation.

Benoît Battistelli

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