Spain, Italy Lose EU Court Appeal Over Patent System Adoption

Spain and Italy lost a challenge at the European Union’s highest court against the EU’s decision to push ahead without them to create the bloc’s first common patent system.

The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled today that given it was “impossible” for all of the EU’s 27 nations “to agree on a common system for the whole EU within a reasonable period,” it was lawful to move ahead without the two dissenting nations, who had objected to the plan largely over language concerns.

The remaining 25 EU nations agreed two years ago to move forward with a common patent system under a mechanism called enhanced cooperation whereby member states can work together as long as at least nine agree on the move.

The EU has 23 official languages and numerous compromises failed to satisfy political demands or risked increasing translation costs for companies.

The EU court today said the decision didn’t damage the EU and “does not prejudice any competence, right or obligation” of Spain and Italy, who are free to join the agreed system.

EU ministers in February formally approved plans to set up the first patent court, paving the way for the common patent system after a decades-long deadlock on the plans.

The cases are: C-274/11, Spain v. Council, C-295/11, Italy v. Council.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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