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Member States meet users in patent reform
The European Court of Justice's dismissal of Spain's actions for annulment of the EU's patent regulations gives fresh impetus to the ongoing pan-European patent reform.
Two years ago, Spain brought actions before the European Court of Justice for annulment of the EU’s two patent regulations. On Tuesday 5 May, the Court of Justice dismissed these actions.
The judgments signify the removal of the final hurdle to a much-needed European patent reform. A reform package made up of unitary patent protection and the unified patent court will thus be introduced. This is good news for the internal market.
The judgments constitute a rallying call to participating Member States to complete their preparations and put the new system into place as soon as possible. Sweden and Germany are cooperating closely to work for user-friendly and swift implementation of the package.
The reform addresses a fragmented European patent system. Today, European patents granted by the European Patent Office must be validated in each country separately, under laws that differ from one country to another. In addition, a dispute over a European patent can currently be settled by multiple courts in different countries, with the risk of varying outcomes and inconsistent case law.
The current system is expensive by comparison. Moreover, it is complicated and legally uncertain for users wishing to obtain, defend or challenge a European patent with regard to several countries. The adverse conditions in Europe encourage innovative industry to instead invest in competing American or Asian markets, where GDP is growing faster and patent regimes are more favourable.
The new system, however, offers pan-European patent protection under a single procedure with limited translation requirements. Additionally, it launches a common, highly specialised court with exclusive competence to settle disputes relating to European patents. Simplification, cost reduction and legal certainty will be achieved.
These overall improvements will close competitive gaps with the world at large and help businesses grow throughout the internal market. And new investments mean market growth and the creation of new jobs. To meet its political aims, the system must be implemented so as to allow users to utilise its economic potential. In our preparations, we need to encourage use by meeting user expectations and making the system attractive.
The ongoing process for setting the fees for unitary patent protection is an important point in this regard. The fee level will need to provide a proper balance – it will need to be attractive to users of varying sizes while ensuring the financial stability of the patent system.
The new system will not be launched until common preparations are finalised and thirteen Member States have ratified the agreement on a unified patent court. When the regulations were adopted and the agreement signed, the participating Member States committed themselves to fulfil these requirements as quickly as possible. We stand firmly behind this commitment and will continue to take responsibility for the implementation of this important reform.
By the same token, we are devoting ourselves to meeting users and working effectively to attain a patent system that will contribute to innovation, growth and jobs in the EU.
Morgan Johansson, Minister of Justice and Migration, Sweden
Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Germany
The article in Swedish: "Sverige och Tyskland driver på för patentreform i EU"
The article in German: Neues Patentrecht in Europa nutzt der Wirtschaft