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The unitary patent, the Spanish challenge and a costly admin error

EU flagAs IPcopy covered back in June last year, Spain has launched further attacks against the unitary patent system at the CJEU. There are several bases for the complaint including breach of the principles of autonomy and the issue of delegation of powers to the European Patent Office whose acts are not subject to judicial review.

At the always entertaining Wragge & Co. annual patent seminar in December last year, the Virgin v. Zodiac case that recently passed through the UK’s Supreme Court was discussed in the context of res judicata and the end of the Unilin principles. However, this case may also illustrate the issues that can arise when the EPO gets something wrong and there’s no means for appeal.

The Supreme Court case centered on Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd’s attempts to recover damages exceeding £49 million (!) for the infringement of a European patent that no longer existed in the form said to have been infringed.

What is particularly interesting about the Virgin/Zodiac case in the context of the unitary patent system and Spain’s challenge to that system is that it relates to a patent that should never have had effect in the UK were it not for an administrative mistake by the EPO!


Unitary patent – Everybody expects the Spanish Opposition! (Part 2)


Back in March we noted that, after their previous joint challenge with Italy against the unitary patent system, Spain had filed two further actions, C-146/13 and C-147/13, at the CJEU against the European Parliament and the European Council. No details were available at the time as to the content of these actions. However, over the weekend this all changed with the publication on InfoCuria of the two actions.

Details of the actions and our initial thoughts are below. In the interests of full disclosure I should probably point out that our initial thoughts are ones of confusion: “what Treaty is that?”, “what does that mean?”, “Have you heard of Meroni?” and “Who’ll be the new Doctor?”*


Unitary patent – Everybody expects the Spanish Opposition!

ExpectingHaving (probably) failed in their attempt with Italy to derail the unitary patent package by poking the enhanced cooperation procedure with “the soft cushions” (see here), Spain has now wheeled out “the Comfy chair” and is bringing two further cases in front of the CJEU to try and stop the unitary patent system from going forward. (Those of you wondering why I’ve suddenly developed a soft furnishings fixation are respectfully referred here.)

Yes, Spain has now filed actions C-146/13 and C-147/13 at the CJEU against the European Parliament and the European Council (against Council Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012 [implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection] & Council Regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012 [implementing translation arrangements] – see here).

So what does this mean for the prospects of the system?