Unitary Patent: Advocate General says actions against the “unitary patent package” shall be dismissed
On 22 March 2014, Spain brought two actions to the European Court of Justice seeking annulment of the Regulations no. 1257/2012 and no. 1260/2012 that form a part of the unitary patent package. However, the Advocate General now stated in his Opinion that those actions must be dismissed.
As regards Regulation no. 1257/2012 which implements enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection the Advocate General pointed out that the unitary effect only attributes an additional characteristic to European patents. This protection would bring real benefit in terms of uniformity and hence integration.
Discussing Regulation no. 1260/2012 which implements enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements (language arrangements) he acknowledges that the language arrangements discriminate persons who do not know one of the official languages of the European Patent Office (German, French, English). However, he is of the opinion that in the present case the discrimination is justified because the “choice of the languages pursues a legitimate objective and is appropriate and proportionate to the guarantees and aspects which attenuate its discriminatory effect“. That is for example because a limited number of languages would bring a significant reduction in translation costs and would support the principle of legal certainty.
If the CJEU follows the recommendations of the Advocate General, this might be another significant step in the creation of an “European Unitary Patent“. A stop of the creation would have represented a step back. A unitary patent system will bring benefits in administrating and enforcing patent rights in Europe. Among others it is the cost-saving benefit of an unitary patent system for patent holders that will increase Europe’s competiveness in the field of inventions especially with regard to China and the USA.