On 23 August 2016, the L’Ordine dei Consulenti in Proprietà Industriale (the Italian Industrial Property Consultants Institute, whose members include patent attorneys) published a letter (here) from its President to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and others, requesting that they bid for Milan to replace London as the location of a section of the central division of the Unified Patent Court (UPC). Under the UPC Agreement, the UPC’s central division is to have its seat in Paris with sections in London and Munich, with cases distributed among the three locations according to the patent’s subject matter. The letter explains that the opportunity for Milan to replace London has arisen due to the UK referendum decision that the UK leave the EU, and it sets out reasons why Milan is a natural candidate.

As explained in our Brexit Q&A, if the parties decide to go ahead with the UPC without the UK, deciding on how to redistribute the central division work is likely to be contentious. The President’s letter argues that a section of the central division should be in Italy because it is the fourth EU state (after France, Germany and the UK) in which the highest number of European patents had effect in 2012 and, therefore, under the UPC Agreement would replace the UK as one of the three mandatory ratifying countries. (Actually, under the current UPC Agreement, it would only do so after the UK left the EU so that provision would need to be amended, together with the provision about the central division locations.) Other reasons put forward include the fact that Italy is one of the main countries in the EU applying for not only European patents but also trade marks and designs (and so contributes substantial fees) yet it does not host any EU IP institutions. Regarding the choice of Milan as the particular location in Italy, the letter explains that most of the IP applications are from companies or firms located in the Lombardy region. It also argues that the new Court would bring benefits such as employment growth and an enhanced reputation in innovation and creativity.

Italy has not yet ratified the UPC Agreement but, as mentioned in the letter, draft legislation to enable it to do so is passing through parliament (see here).