Today, the EU Council published a packed agenda (MEMO/11/864) for the meeting of the Competitiveness Council under the current Polish Presidency on Monday and Tuesday next week in Brussels (see webcast). Further, this background note tells us that the Council will “examin[e the] files related to the creation of unitary patent protection and of a unified patent litigation system” in the afternoon of Monday 5th.

For us, those passages of the memo relating to the Internal Market (represented by Commissioner  Michel Barnier) are most interesting:

With respect to creation of Unitary Patent protection and an adequate translation regime under the enhanced cooperation procedur, the agenda only states that afte the recent “intensive discussions with the co-legislator – European Parliament”

Commissioner Barnier calls on the Competitiveness Council to approve the final compromise texts as agreed in informal discussions with the Parliament and to prepare the file for final adoption in 2012.

The patent community will surely look to Brussels with much anticipation to learn what exactly the intensive discussions with the European Parliament (and JURI, its Legal Affairs Committee) did to the proposed regulation text we meanwhile all know well (see Document 11328/11).

Regarding the Draft Agreement on the creation of a Unified Patent Court and draft statute (see Document 15539/11) the agenda discloses the issues that are still considered controversal:

the Polish Presidency will present for agreement a number of outstanding, politically sensitive issues including the seat of the future Unified Patent Court, financing principles, language of proceedings, the transitional period and the revision clause. An agreement on these issues would allow further work to advance on finding an overall political agreement on the whole of the patent reform by the end of this year.

The tight schedule urges the Competitive Council to agree on texts for the whole package (Unitary Patent, Language Arangement, Unified Patent Court) so that it can be handed over to the Brussels EU Summit to be agreed by the European Heads of Government on 9 Dec 2011 and then announce at a end-of-presidency ceremony on 22 Dec in Warsaw.

We have to wait and see if and how this tight schedule is realistic in times where European political leaders and the whole EU administration constantly fight a battle to survive the EURO currency if not the European Union as a whole.


UPDATE (04.12.2011).

Meanwhile, the European Parliament issued a press release (pdf) with the promising title “Done deal on the EU patent?”, reporting on an agreement between the EU Council under the Polish Presidency and JURI, the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee in the closed door negotiations we reported on earlier (see here and here):

Parliament’s rapporteurs struck a political agreement with the Polish Presidency of the Council on the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) that form the “EU patent package”.

However, besides some rather global statments and the general aim to reduce patenting costs for SMEs and to avoid legal confusion with national patent laws, the details of the agreement remain unclear.

In any case, the next steps in this saga will be

  • 5/6 Dec, Meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels (see here).
  • 8/9 Dec, EU Summit of the Heads of Government in Brussels,
  • 19/20 Dec, meeting of the Legal Affairs Committee JURI,
  • 22 Dec, end-of-presidency ceremony in Warsaw (see here).
  • 14 Feb 2012, first plenary session of the EU Parliament (see here),
  • 2014, entering into force of the Patent Package.

You may also have a look at the IPKat’s coverage of the press release, who did not find any substance therein either but instead focusses on the question of the seat of the future Unified Patent Court and again bangs the drum for London.

About The Author

Volker 'Falk' Metzler

European Patent Attorney, German 'Patentanwalt', European Trademark and Design Attorney, Computer Scientist, PhD, IP Blogger, Father of Two, Mountain Enthusiast

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