Unified Patent System: CJEU dismisses Spain’s actions
On 20 November 2014 we reported on our website about the Advocate General’s Opinion regarding Spain’s actions seeking annulment of the Regulations no. 1257/2012 and no. 1260/2012 that form part of the unitary patent package (see here). In its judgements C-146/13 and C-147/13 of 05 May 2015 the Court now followed the opinion of the Advocate General and dismissed Spain’s actions.
As regards Regulation no. 1257/2012 which implements enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, Spain alleged, inter alia, that the administrative procedure preceding the grant of a European patent was not subject to judicial review and therefore undermined the principle of effective judicial protection. However, the Court pointed out that the Regulation does not incorporate the procedure for granting European patents laid down by the EPC into EU law. Furthermore, the Court made clear that Art. 118 TFEU presents an adequate legal basis for the Regulation. The aim of the Regulation was to create a unified patent system in the EU, thereby serving the goal of a uniform protection of intellectual property rights within the Union.
As regards Regulation no. 1260/2012 containing the applicable translation arrangements, the Court acknowledged the unequal treatment of people who do not speak one of the official languages of the European Patent Office (German, French, English). However, the Court held that such unequal treatment was justified in the light of the legitimate objective of the Regulation, which was to create a uniform and simple translation regime to facilitate better access to patent protection. The patent system established by the Regulation was not only less costly but also legally more secure.
As expected, the CJEU followed the opinion of the General Advocate. This further paves the way for a Unified Patent in the EU. A unitary patent system will bring benefits in administrating and enforcing patent rights in Europe. It is, among others, the cost-saving benefit of a unitary patent system for patent holders that will increase Europe’s competitiveness in the field of inventions especially with regard to China and the USA.