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European Patent Court deemed not compatible with the provisions of European Union law

11 March 2011

The European Court of justice (ECJ) has ruled that a European and Community Patent Court is not compatible with the provisions of European Union law, thus scuppering plans for a single European patent. Commenting on the move, Clive Thorne, a partner at City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain said it would now take a new treaty to set up an EU patent court, which would be a major political headache for the EU. "It is hard to see how plans for a single European patent can now be salvaged."

“Plans for a single patent system in the EU had their critics but they would have reduced the amount of litigation for rights holders protecting their intellectual property in Europe," says Mr Thorne. "Under the plans, rights holders would only have to enforce their patent in one European patent court as opposed to separate courts in each designated country under the current non-EU European Patent Convention system. This ruling has closed down an important avenue towards reducing expensive litigation for international rights holders.

“The European Court of Justice has flexed its muscles and affirmed the constitutional supremacy of its role in interpreting European law. Proposals to set up a new EU-wide court system were never likely to fare well under scrutiny by the ECJ, which exists to enforce the European Treaties and the supremacy of EU law over national law and has a history of rejecting any potential challenge to its jurisdiction.”

More detail on this ruling is available here.

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