On 30 September, Italy formally joined the Unified Patent Court (UPC) agreement, after earlier becoming a participant of the Unitary Patent Regulation, leaving only EU countries Spain and Croatia outside the doors of the upcoming European Unitary Patent system, a central part of which is the new UPC.
Italy is the fourth biggest granter of patents in Europe (behind Germany, France and the UK, ahead of The Netherlands), and its initial reluctance to participate in the Unitary European Patent system had been viewed by some as problematic. Whether Spain will hold out much longer remains a question, but with Italy’s change of heart, the situation may change soon.
Relevantly, however, neither Germany nor the UK have as yet provided their instrument of ratification of the UPC Agreement. While it is expected that Germany will do so shortly, given the situation in the UK, where a referendum in 2016 may yet lead the UK to exit the EU, it is by no means certain that the Unitary Patent may become a reality, at least until 2017.