As widely expected (see earlier report here) the European Parliament has today voted in favour of the proposed Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court. The ‘compromise’ deal agreed by the member states was endorsed by Parliament in three separate voting sessions, one on each aspect of the ‘EU Patent Package’ (the unitary patent, the language regime and the unified patent court). 

When the new regime comes into force, European patents granted by the EPO will be able to be granted with ‘unitary effect’ for the 25 participating EU member states. The proposed Unified Patent Court will eventually have exclusive jurisdiction over all litigation involving European patents.

The international agreement creating a unified patent court will enter into force on 1 January 2014, or after thirteen contracting states ratify it (provided that UK, France and Germany are among them). The other two acts making up the ‘package’ will apply from the latest of 1 January 2014 and the date when the international agreement enters into force.

Separately, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice has issued a preliminary opinion in response to the legal challenges by Italy and Spain, against the use of the ‘enhanced cooperation’ procedure to establish the Unitary Patent. The Advocate General found that there was no basis for the CJEU to object to the use of the procedure and hence recommended dismissing the actions by Italy and Spain. Although the CJEU does not have to follow the Advocate General’s recommendation, it is fairly unlikely that they will depart from it.

Spain and Italy are not participating in the Unitary patent scheme, but could join at any time if they wished.

The press release from the European Parliament can be read here.