The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Dismisses the Spanish Challenges to the Unitary Patent

5 May 2015

Spain brought actions before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (Cases C-146/13 and C-147/13) against Regulations 1257/2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (OJ 2012, L 361/1) and 1260/2012 on the applicable translation arrangements.  The Court today issued its Decision in connection with both cases. 

The Court dismisses both of Spain's actions.  An English press release discussing the Court’s reasons can be found here

With regards to Spain’s objections concerning the legality, in the light of European Union (EU) law, of the administrative procedure preceding the grant of a European patent, the Court explains that relevant Regulation is in no way intended to delimit, even partially, the conditions for granting European patents – which are exclusively governed by the European Patent Convention (EPC) – and that it does not incorporate the procedure for granting European patents laid down by the EPC into EU law.  The Court also emphasises that unitary patent protection is apt to prevent divergences in terms of patent protection in the participating Member States and, accordingly, provides uniform protection of intellectual property rights in the territory of those States.

With regards to Spain’s objections to the translation requirements, the Court emphasises that the Regulation has a legitimate objective, namely the creation of a uniform and simple translation regime for the European patent with unitary effect (EPUE) so as to facilitate access to patent protection, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.  The Court also argues that the language arrangements established by the regulation make access to the EPUE and the patent system as a whole easier, less costly and legally more secure.  The Court goes on to explain that the Regulation is also proportionate, as it maintains the necessary balance between the interests of applicants for EPUEs and the interests of other economic operators.

We now expect the Regulations creating unitary patent protection and the applicable translation arrangements to be implemented without further hindrance, although we do not expect the unitary patent system to be in place until 2016 or even later.  Further information concerning unitary patent protection can be found here.

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