In its recent ruling in Case C-414/11 the Court of Justice of European Union (CJEU) ruled that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) is part of the European Union's common commercial policy and, therefore, it falls within the exclusive competence of the EU. This means, in practice, that the CJEU has competence to interpret the provisions of TRIPS even where the subject matter has not been harmonized at the EU level, such as patent law.

The CJEU also confirmed that TRIPS obliges the Member States of the World Trade Organization to provide patent protection for pharmaceutical products, but does not oblige them to make it possible to convert existing process patents, which have been granted before the entry into force of TRIPS, into product patents. The ruling does not, however, take any stance on whether the Member States should allow converting process patent applications which were pending at the time of the entry into force of TRIPS, into product patent applications.