Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Joining the unitary patent is now a priority for Italy

A press release on the website of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development stated that Italy wants to join the Unitary patent. We speculated earlier that Italy was considering making this step after the Italian Ministry of Economic Development submitted a formal call for comments the unitary patent.

The Secretary for Economic Development Simona Vicari stated that (our translation)

"For the Ministry of Economic Development, accession to the unitary patent it is a priority. After the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU on May 5 that rejected the appeal of Spain, we have had confirmation that the legal framework of the unitary patent system is not in discussion.

Membership to the unitary patent system is, for the Ministry of Economic Development, in line with the interests of a country that focuses on innovation and internationalization of its companies and which wants to ensure a timelier and uniform EU-protection to whom invests in research, development, innovation and thereby applies for a patent.

In addition, the new system should promote to combat counterfeit on a transnational scale and consequently improve attraction of foreign direct investment in our country.

Having in Italy a branch of the Unified Patent Court (TUB), will enable our companies to have available a national office in which they can protect their interests also in Italian, not to mention that if we adhere now to the unitary patent system we can still hope to have a voice regarding the unitary patent renewal fees and their distribution, and ask for more support for our SMEs"

Having Italy in the unitary patent would be a welcome addition as Italy is one of the larger European economies (fourth in GDP according to Wikipedia).

I'm guessing that Vicari's wish for more support for SME, means that she supports the so-called TOP5 proposal of Battistelli, in which renewal fees are generally higher but in which SMEs get a 25% reduction for the first renewal years. Likewise, she may favor the fee proposal for the Unified patent court in which SMEs pay no fees at all. 

For Italy to join the unified patent court they will have to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent court. This should not be problem, as they are already a signatory to this agreement. 

However, Italy also needs to ensure that the EU regulations apply to them. The Unitary patent is regulated as an enhanced cooperation which excludes Spain and Italy. I understand from Article 20 of the European Union Treaty that such cooperation shall be open at any time to all Member States. So Italy can join the EU part of the unitary patent any time they wish.

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