On 8 March, the European Court of Justice dashed hopes of progress on a central European Patents Court, which was one of several key elements of a December 2010 agreement reached between the European Commission (EC) and 11 of the EU States (including the UK, Germany and France).
The December agreement was to use a procedure called "enhanced cooperation" in order to break the deadlock for creating a single unified patent within the EU. Under this provision, those European States could effectively start the process of creating a unified European patent system using the tri-lingual regime currently adopted at the European Patent Office (EPO). Details are set out in this newsletter and can be found at this link: EU Patent - A summary of the Proposed Scheme.
The ECJ ruling that the proposals are incompatible with the EU Treaty is a blow to the entire EU Patent project, but the Commission has said it will press ahead. Discussions as to how such a patent will be litigated must start over in the light of the ECJ's objections.
On a more positive note, we have some good news for low-cost patent litigation in the UK - see New opportunities article.