European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee’s hearing on the unitary patent

European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee’s hearing on the unitary patent

30 March 2017

In its meeting on 22/23 March 2017, the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee held a hearing on ‘The Unitary Patent: state of play’ (recording here).  There were three guest speakers: Benoît Battistelli (President of the EPO), Slawomir Tokarski (the European Commission’s Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, DG GROW) and Bernhard Rapkay (former MEP and one of the rapporteurs for the legislative package).  Mr Battistelli, who has reported on the hearing here, was optimistic that the first unitary patent would be granted this year, and Mr Tokarski confirmed that this was the joint target of the EPO and the Commission.  Mr Tokarski emphasised that to meet that target, the target for the entering into force of the provisional application of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement is 29 May 2017 at the latest (noting that that is the date of the next Competitiveness Council meeting); he said that, since the previous Competitiveness Council meeting, the Commission had been keeping pressure on member states to meet this May target (e.g. for those who had ratified the UPC Agreement to also express their consent to be bound by its Protocol on Provisional Application, if they had not already done so).  Mr Rapkay, however, was less optimistic than the other two speakers, being doubtful whether, because of Brexit, the UK would actually ratify the UPC Agreement, referring, inter alia, to the Agreement’s provisions concerning the CJEU and to the negotiations before the Agreement was signed in 2013.  When invited to comment, Mr Battistelli said his own belief was based on the UK government’s declaration in the Competitiveness Council meeting in November 2016 that it would ratify, and the current IP Minister’s confirmation of that position when they met recently.  There were no questions from the Committee members to the speakers, and the meeting concluded with a reiteration that the European Parliament continued to support the project.
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