The Spanish attempt to block Europe’s planned Unitary Patent has failed, with the European Court ruling against challenges to two of the project’s underlying legal instruments.
Spain’s legal objections to the Unitary Patent were twofold, based on objections to the language regime, which favours German, French and English, and the legal basis of a system which gives the patent granting role to a non-EU body, the European Patent Office.
Since this ruling, the Italian government has expressed enthusiasm to get involved, and a desire to have a branch of the Unified Patent Court in Italy.
The removal of this obstacle to completion of the Unitary Patent system has fuelled optimism among enthusiasts that things will now move faster. But questions remain over the detailed mechanics of the system. And of course, ratification is still a long way from completion with only six countries on the tick list.
Meanwhile the preparation work of the Unified Patent Court continues and a consultation on court fees and recoverable costs has been issued. Points to note:
- Infringement claims and counterclaims would incur a fixed fee of €11k with additional value based fees of up to €220k for the most substantial claims. Guidelines for assessing claim value are not yet available though, and would be developed in the initial years of the court’s operation.
- Revocation claims and counterclaims would be charged at €20k.
- Applications for provisional measures (interim injunctions etc) would be charged at €11k.
- There are options to help SMEs, not-for-profit organisations, universities etc, such as exemption from value-based fees and reimbursement where the economic existence of an entity is under threat.
- Reimbursement for ‘particular behaviours’ likely to save court time, such as early settlement, is proposed.
- Ceilings for recoverable costs for the successful party would vary according to the value of the dispute, and might range from €50k to €3m per instance and per party.
You can make your views known on these proposals by 31 July. (We wonder how Spanish commentators will view the request to submit their views in English…)