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Court of justice dismisses Italy and Spain’s patent complaint

The Court of Justice of the European Union has dismissed legal action brought forward by Spain and Italy to challenge the legitimacy of the unitary patent.

Spain and Italy had challenged the unitary patent system on the grounds that under existing law, patents would have to be translated into English, French and German only. In protest at a perceived neglect of their national languages, the two countries are also not participating in the patent system.

In a decision published on 16 April, the court said the language arrangements for the unitary patent match those listed under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The languages selected are sufficient to establish what is known as “enhanced cooperation”, a system under which a certain level of agreement between member states is enough to bring a decision forward.

The court said that the fact that Italy and Spain had made extra requests for their languages to be included in the unitary patent system had caused delays to the decision-making process on the patent. In a statement explaining the court’s decision, it said that the enhanced cooperation rules exist to ensure that negotiating processes like the one around the unitary patent can be brought to an end.

“Having regard to its being impossible to reach common arrangements for the whole EU within a reasonable period, [the enhanced cooperation rules] contribute to the process of integration,” the court explained.