Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Notification letter Italy availabe

As reported earlier Italy has asked to join the unitary patent. I've asked European council to send me the content of the notification letter and they have kindly done so. We have made the letter available here. (The notification letter itself is not online only a summary.)
There are no great surprises in the letter. The opening section is as follows:

 I wish to inform you that the Italian government has further examined all legal and institutional issues regarding Regulation No 1257/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2012, implementing enhanced cooperation for the creation of unitary patent protection, and Council regulation (EU) No 1260/2012 of 17 December 2012, implementing enhanced cooperation for the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation regime.

I'm surprised the Council decision of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (2011/167/EU) is not mentioned. This document contains a list of all participating member states, a list from which Spain and Italy are absent.
The letter continues:

On the basis of this thorough evaluation, Italy has determined to request participation in the enhanced cooperation for the creation of unitary patent protection, pursuant to Article 331 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Article 331 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union regulates how an EU state can request ascension to enhanced cooperation.

According to article 331 any Member State that wishes to participate in enhanced cooperation in progress shall notify its intention to the Council and the Commission. The first notification is linked above. I'm assuming the commission received a similar letter.

Within four month of receiving this notification the Commission will confirm the participation of Italy. The Commission can adopt transitional measures if that is necessary with regard to the application of the acts already adopted. Since the unitary patent system has not yet started, I do not expect such transitional measures.

The last section of the letter reads:

The accession to enhanced cooperation on the European Patent does not prejudge Italy's well established position on the EU language regime and does not constitute a precedent.
Italy together with Spain challenged the legality of the enhanced cooperation (joined Cases C-274/11 and C–295/11). The unitary patent has more or less adopted the current language regime of the European Patent Office. This system favors English, German and French. Both Italy and Spain are unhappy with this decision. Italy argued that the enhanced cooperation was a ploy to derive Italy of its right to oppose the language arrangements. Moreover, they argued that the enhanced cooperation would distort competition by favoring undertakings working in English, French or German.

However these arguments were rejected in 2013. A second challenge by Spain without Italy was rejected about two months ago. Apparently, Italy had waited until this decision with joining the unitary patent.

Personally, I'm very glad that Italy has made this decision. A unitary patent is a lot less attractive when both the fourth (Italy) and fifth (Spain) EU economy are absent. Currently, it looks likely that from the ten largest EU economies, 8 will participate; Spain and Poland being the outliers.

Photo "Cappuccino Loves Italy" by roevin | Urban Capture obtained via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license (no changes made).

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