The unitary patent and Unified Patent Court are tabled to return to the Spanish political agenda following the submission on 13 February 2017 of a non-legislative motion by political party PSOE (in the opposition) which calls on the Spanish government to reconsider joining both systems (available here). The motion will be debated in the Committee on Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of the Spanish parliament).
As readers may recall, Spain has opposed the project’s agreed language regime since inception of the project, choosing not to participate in the enhanced cooperation leading to the implementation of the unitary patent legal framework or to sign the UPC Agreement. In fact, Spain has unsuccessfully challenged before the CJEU the legality of the regulations implementing the unitary patent project in two occasions, the second challenge being dismissed in May 2015. Italy had initially joined Spain in its opposition to the language regime and first judicial challenge, but changed its mind shortly after the CJEU dismissed the second challenge and has now fully joined the unitary patent and ratified the UPC Agreement (reported here).
The motion formally calls on the Spanish government to join the enhanced cooperation in the creation of unitary patent protection, to sign the UPC Agreement. After summarising the history of Spain’s position in the negotiations, and noting that Italy’s decision has left Spain as the only EU Member State not to have joined the unitary patent package (although Croatia has not yet joined either, and Poland is not a signatory to the UPC Agreement), the document states that any disadvantage to Spanish companies as a consequence of the language regime will not be different from those already faced in their dealings with the EPO, and that staying out of the project would damage the competitiveness of Spanish innovators. Finally, the motion suggests that Spain should take advantage of the UK exit from the EU to request that the London seat of the UPC central division is relocated to Spanish territory.