Italian U-turn on unitary patent

Sarah-Jane Poingdestre | June 2015

Following the recent Decision of the CJEU to dismiss the Spanish challenges to the EU Regulations underpinning the unitary patent regime, the Interministerial Committee for European Affairs has expressed the Italian government’s willingness to participate in the unitary patent package.

The unitary patent package is a set of legislation designed to create a single ‘unitary’ European patent right,  which can only be registered, transferred, renewed or removed from the register in respect of all participating EU Member States. The package also establishes a Unified Patent Court to handle infringement and validity cases relating to these unified rights.

Italy was one of 25 countries who originally signed the agreement in respect of the Unified Patent Court, but they have not ratified it.  Italy has also previously joined with Spain in challenging the EU legislation supporting the implementation of the unitary patent reforms.

However, on 13 May 2015, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development released a statement saying that accession to the unitary patent is now a priority now that they have confirmation that the legal framework of the unitary patent package is not in dispute.

In an unexpected change of heart, the Italian government indicated that participation in the unitary patent package is “in line with the interests of a country that focuses on innovation and internationalization of their companies”. The government also say that the new system will assist the fight against counterfeiting and consequently encourage foreign investment and assist small and medium-sized enterprises.  It will also give them the opportunity to participate in the ongoing negotiations on renewal fees.

The shift in position of the Italian government may be considered as the first step towards Italy’s participation in the unitary patent package. Watch this space.