10. Jun 22

Federal Constitutional Court rejects requests for an injunction against the Unified Patent Court Act

A ruling from June 23, 2021 by the Bundesverfassungsgericht – Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court – saw the Court reject two petitions for a preliminary injunction directed against the Act that was adopted for the purposes of ratifying the EU Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (case ref. 2 BvR 2216/20 and 2 BvR 2217/20).

The European unitary patent is intended to simplify patent law within the EU, saving companies time and money. But despite the fundamental consensus that exists, there have been teething problems. We at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte can report that the reason for this is that the European regulation also seeks to establish a Unified Patent Court, and there is resistance to this in Germany, where the Bundesverfassungsgericht declared the bill to ratify the Agreement null and void back in early 2020 because it was not passed by the two-thirds majority required in the Bundestag.

The legislation made its way through the Bundestag and the Bundesrat – Germany’s lower and upper houses of parliament, respectively – for a second time in late 2020, only to be put on hold again by new claims of unconstitutionality. However, by dismissing the two petitions for a preliminary injunction against the legislation, the Bundesverfassungsgericht has now cleared the way for its implementation. The Court ruled that the complaints were inadmissible as the complainants had failed to sufficiently substantiate a possible violation of their fundamental rights.

The Unified Patent Court shall have jurisdiction to hear disputes concerning patent infringements, the validity of patents, as well as appeals against decisions of the European Patent Office. Courts of first instance will be established in the signatory countries in addition to a court of appeal based in Luxembourg. Germany’s failure to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court has to date been a roadblock to its entry into force.

Every EU member state has signed up to the European unitary patent except for Spain and Croatia. The new regime will allow any holder of a European patent to also apply for unitary effect for the patent across all participating countries by submitting a single request instead of having to submit individual applications for patent protection, thus saving time and money. According to the European Commission, the costs associated with registering a patent could be reduced by as much as 32,000 euros as a result. The unitary patent regime is currently expected to enter into force sometime in 2022.

Lawyers with experience in the field of IP law can advise on all things patent-related.

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