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Unitary patent: Nuggets of News

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EU flagSome unitary patent related news bites today relating to the ratification process and some articles from Ingve Stjerna on the background to the unitary patent package.

Dr Ingve Björn Stjerna is a German attorney operating in the area of patent litigation. Ingve has been following the progress of the unitary patent system with a keen eye and may be familiar to readers as the author of the articles: “Law-making in camera, article on the doubtful understanding of transparency and democracy in the legislative process for the “unitary patent” package” and the optimistically titled “The “sub-sub-suboptimal compromise” of the EU Parliament, article on the Special Meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee on 19 November 2012”.

Ingve has recently dropped IPcopy a couple of notes to highlight a couple of new entries on his website.

1)      Spain is not enamoured of the unitary patent package and has two challenges in front of the CJEU in which they’d like to knock out the entire system. The Court will hear these cases on 1 July 2014 but the decision from the AG is not expected until later this year with the Court’s view coming next year.

Ingve has sent an article that explains the background on the issues that are probably in play in the Spanish challenges (namely the removal of former Articles 6-8 of the Unitary Patent Regulation and the associated legal fallout from this removal).

The article ends by highlighting that if the CJEU endorses the current legal framework and in particular that the current legal framework effectively suggests the legal set up of the former arrangement has been reintroduced by the “back door”, then this may cause some issues for the UK since our PM publicly stated that one of the UK’s aims was “that the new patent [regulation] should be redrafted so it did not get snarled up in the processes of the European Court of Justice [CJEU]”. An endorsement by the CJEU of the current framework may mean that the unitary patent system no longer meets this aim which might put the PM in a tricky position (especially as powers to/from Europe are likely to play a part in next year’s General Election).

2) Whereas the UK legislative process surrounding the Intellectual Property Act 2014 was an easy affair to follow (i.e. a navigable parliamentary website, a dedicated webpage to the bill in question, advance diary entries of relevant meetings and transcripts of proceedings that would often publish the transcript relating to the start of a meeting before the meeting in question had actually finished!), things are not so straightforward when we look at Europe (i.e.  a website that makes no sense*, difficulty in working on what’s going on and when, and a lack of transcripts of the stuff you’re actually interested in).

Ingve however has come to the rescue and has transcribed all the speeches and statements from the TV recordings of the JURI Committee and Plenary meetings relating to the unitary patent system. Not only that he’s kindly translated the entire bundle into English! The documents should cover all the public discussions held by the EU Parliament and its Legal Affairs Committee between December 2010 and December 2012. Happy reading!


As followers of the unitary patent system will no doubt know we now have 5 countries who have completed their ratification procedures and deposited those instruments of ratification in Brussels. The Famous Five are: Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark. Despite the recent flurry of additions to this list, anyone concerned or excited that the system will kick in any time soon should calm down a little. The UK and Germany, who are both required to ratify the unified patent court agreement before the system can go live, are some way away from ratifying. The UK is not expected to do so until early next year (and even then may delay depositing its ratification instrument even longer) and Germany won’t even start the process until this Autumn.

But what of other territories? IPcopy readers  H Springorum and Hans van de Heuvel  have provided updates for both Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

In Luxembourg parliamentary ratification has apparently been initiated by a letter dated 13 June 2014 from Henri Grand Duc de Luxembourg, the letter being received by parliament on 16 June 2014.

The Netherlands however has apparently not started the parliamentary phase of ratification. When the government asks for the process to begin this should be published here.

Mark Richardson 25 June 2014

*Is it just me or does anyone else find the easiest way to navigate, for instance, the EPO website is to do a Google search?


  1. With regard to the Dutch ratification: this will be part of a more general overhaul of the Dutch Patent Act, which will repair some flaws in that Act. It is currently being prepared and should enter the legislative process this fall.

  2. Hans van de Heuvel says:

    @Wouter A detail for many, but something that has been nagging me… Do you know whatl the Netherlands will do with Sint Maarten/Curacao/Caribbean Netherlands? IMO the unitary patent does not apply (legal basis in regulation, which only applies to the EU territory), but the rijksoctrooiwet as well as EPC apply to them; and the UPC regarding non-unitary european patents will (may?) apply to them, as the scope there (article 34) is the territorial scope of European patents…

    @Mark There are actually quite some interesting “nuggets of news” (or pure trivia) in the Luxembourg ratification act (http://www.cc.lu/uploads/tx_userccavis/4267_Juridiction_unifiee_du_brevet_PL_4267FMI.pdf):
    i)Host countries of the court of appeal Luxembourgh and the central division in London, Paris and Munich pay for the first 7 years for the court facilities incl support personnel. Apparently that was part of the negotiations
    ii) the court of appeal expects to start with 10 judges; to 20 judges in 2012….
    iii) the ultimate budget of the court as a whole is expected to be 45-60 mlm euro

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