Single patent system in Europe overcomes major obstacle

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has dismissed a legal challenge by Spain to block the introduction of a single patent system in Europe.

Under current patent law, any firm wishing to secure their product across Europe must do so by applying for individual patents in each EU member state. Once approved, a company will also have to deal with any further legal matters in national courts.

In December 2012, the Council of the European Union approved the creation of a unitary patent and central court to solve this problem and give inventors uniform protection across 25 EU states.

Although the EU has stated the new system would lead to cheaper patents, its implementation has stalled and been a major source of contention in recent years. In 2011, Spain and Italy announced it would not participate in the single patent initiative and mounted a legal challenge to throw out the proposal after its announcement.

In dismissing Spain’s case, the ECJ has now announced the initiative will ‘facilitate access to patent protection, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses’.

The European Patent Office (EPO) has welcomed the ECJ’s decision, with the EPO President, Benoit Battistelli, stating that ‘after more than 40 years, [it] paves the way towards truly uniform patent protection in Europe.’