Croatia’s accession to the EU has an impact on Community Trade Marks (CTMs), Registered Community Designs and potentially the unitary patent system.
IPcopyben has previously posted about the impact on CTMs and Community Designs and his earlier post can be found here. The mere act of joining the EU will not impact upon any national patents that are filed in Croatia. The EUROPA press release notes:
Are Croatian patents going to automatically apply within the entire territory of the EU?
No, Croatian patents are the “national titles” which cannot be enforced outside Croatia, not even after accession. But the same principle applies to German, Portuguese, etc patents; this leads to a fragmented market which prompted the EU to adopt the unitary-patent system.
However, now that they are a member of the European Union, Croatia will be free to join the enhanced cooperation regime that the unitary patent system is being supplied under. They will also be able to sign the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court if they wish. As such Croatia may join the Ratification Game and could potentially be one of the first 13 states to ratify the UPC Agreement and usher in the unitary patent system.
If Croatia join the unitary patent system then they will also contribute to the issue we raised with respect to Malta, namely could Malta (or Croatia) limit the number of patent applications that could be eligible to become unitary patents?
Mark Richardson 1 July 2013