|"For what we are about to receive ..." -- Europe's patent owners, attorneys, administrators|
and consumers pray for an outcome that will not be appreciably worse than what they already have
Major step towards a new European Patent system takenTonight [1900 to 2100 in Strasbourg, which works out at 1800 to 2000 GMT] following a special meeting of the JURI Committee of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Commissioner Barnier is expected to announce a major breakthrough in the long-running saga of the creation of a Unitary European Patent and Unified Patent Court [on both of which this blog weblog has carried countless posts, mainly thanks to the efforts of Annsley]. The announcement will herald agreement between Council and the European Parliament leading to the adoption of new legislation to create the new system by April 2014.
New developmentToday, 19 November, the package, including a compromise on the wording of the Unitary Patent Regulation was agreed by Council (via Coreper, [that's the Council of Permanent Representatives]), and at a meeting this evening of the Juri (Legal Affairs) Committee of the European Parliament which will be attended by Commissioner Barnier, the Committee is expected to rubber-stamp its agreement to the package, including the Unitary Patent Regulation with the following timetable to follow in consequence:
· Approval of the Unitary Patent Regulation by the Council of Ministers on 10 December· Plenary vote in Parliament on 11 December to approve both Regulations· Adoption of the Unitary Patent and Language Regulations by 21 December· Signature of the Treaty establishing the Unified Patent Court on 18 February 2013.· Ratification of the UPC Treaty from February 2013 onwards - UK, France and Germany and 10 other states need to ratify to bring the Agreement into force.The Commission believes that ratification will be achieved by 1 November 2013, allowing the first unitary patents to be issued by April 2014, with the Unified Patent Court also being set up by this date.Commissioner Barnier will publish his speaking points later and be available for short interviews after the JURI meeting.There is at least one other legal hurdle in the way, however. Italy and Spain have challenged the legality of the “enhanced cooperation” process at the European Court of Justice. An Advocate General’s opinion is expected from the ECJ on 11 December, which will give a good indication of the ultimate decision of the Court in 2013.
“The agreement to the Unitary Patent Regulation is a major step toward a completely new patent regime for Europe which will have very considerable implications for innovative industry. Many in industry are concerned that in the last few months, proposals for the new system has been rushed through as a matter of political expediency without considering the full implications. At a recent conference held at UCL, an impromptu vote among industry representatives revealed that none of those present wanted the new system in its present form. Whether the numerous practical problems identified will make for a system which is cheaper and better, or in fact worse and more expensive, that the present national systems, remains to be seen”.This Kat has put this post down as a marker, but both suspects and hopes that other Kats will want to take this topic further, whether before or after the event. His own view is that, even if the "done deal" is perfect and everyone loves it, the timetable is unworkably tight. There's all the difference between solving a set of problems and working out the best way to implement those solutions, and the various stakeholders in the current patent system are going to be fairly busy operating under present conditions while preparing for those that replace them.