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A hefty punch from the EU Court

July 2011 - Intellectual Property. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

More articles by this firm.

The EU Court of Justice recently said that the plans for a common European patent litigation system are incompatible with the EU treaties.

The story of introducing a common EU patent system has developed into something of a serial drama. In November 2010, negotiations ground to a halt after a Council of Ministers meeting (click here to read more). Then followed the announcement that a number of Northern European countries had agreed on a patent system. And now the EU Court has issued an Opinion which may be the final nail in the coffin of a common EU patent system.
The plans for a common European patent system consist of two elements: an EU patent for the entire EU and a new European patent litigation system to hear all cases about EU patents.
Incompatible with the treaties
In its Opinion, however, the EU Court made it clear that the plans must be changed.
According to the EU Court, the problem is first and foremost that if a new EU patent court is set up, it will mean that the courts of the individual EU countries will no longer have jurisdiction to hear cases in substantial areas of patent law. The EU Court would therefore also lose its right to decide EU law issues within those areas of patent law. Altogether, this is incompatible with fundamental principles of the EU treaties.
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that the opinion of the EU Court will probably mean that the EU countries will not be able to set up a parallel court system at the European level to deal with patent cases; and

  • that it is now even more doubtful that the plans for a common EU patent can be put into effect.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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