Unitary Patent: a compromise that excludes the Parliament, the European law and its companies

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Paris, the 21st of November 2012. Press Release. – On Monday 12th of November, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament held an extraordinary debate about the unitary patent, which was attended by Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner in charge of internal market. According to our sources, he has welcomed with the compromise found in the Council by the Cypriot Presidency. However, and as April highlighted it, this solution infringes the Union Law, and does not provide any democratic safeguard. These questions have been cleared out, even though the Commission is aware about the likely unlawfulness of this project.

UPDATE: We have got audio recordings, with the English translation provided by the linguistic services of the European Parliament

Because of this, several MEPs demonstrated only a very limited support to this proposal. Some of the MEPs, such as Eva Lichtenberger (Greens/EFA) or Françoise Castex (Party of European Socialists), even opposed immediately the Council's new version.

Still, it appears that the text will be submitted again during the next plenary session of the European Parliament on December 11th, 2012, following a vote from the Council of the European Union on December 10th.

The lack of public communication from the European Parliament shows furthermore its lack of haste on this matter: though the debates could not be broadcasted due to a technical difficulty - and on that point the content of the Council's proposal was in fact not even released1, no official communication was issued by the European Parliament.

"De facto, the European Parliament is currently excluded of any decision making on the unitary patent" explains Jeanne Tadeusz, April's Public Affairs Officer. "If the Council's demands do no evolve, there will be no real debate since the Parliament will have the choice between approving the changes demanded by the Member States and sending the entire text back before the Council, which already stated that the current compromise had been too difficult to reach to be amendable."

Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, Volunteer Advisor on patents, concludes that "the entire dealing of this matter is a true example of disdain towards the institutions and towards the European construction. Instead of creating a true European patent, it is put in the hands of bodies outside of the Union; there is an attempt to stop the Parliament from voicing its opinion; and there is a complete disregard towards the European legal order. Yet the rapporteur of this draft regulation, Bernhard Rapkay, had clearly defined a "thin red line" that had to be not crossed2. Yet it is exactly what is about to happen if the plenary is required to give its final opinion as early as December!"

April calls the European Parliament for postponing the vote in plenary session after the European Court of Justice's opinion, which was supposed to give its decision about the lawfulness of the enhanced cooperation in early 2013 (the opinion of the Advocate General is expected on 11th of December 2012). Indeed, the European Parliament cannot vote without the guarantee of the legal validity of this text with regards to all its aspects, which also requires a public notice of the legal service of the European Parliament about the Cypriot solution, because they have not yet had the opportunity to adjudge about this. Lastly, the access to all the documents on the analysis about the lawfulness of the unified patent jurisdiction3 is vital for the MEPs to get all the necessary information.

Therefore we must make our opinion heard on this topic that impacts all of us, so as to ensure that the unitary patent truly provides legal certainty and that it respects our rights and our liberties, including our liberty to program. It is therefore crucial to continue to contact the MEPs, and especially the project's rapporteur, Bernhard Rapkay, to remind him of the imporance of the legal uncertainty that this unitary patent would introduce. Companies can also sign the resolution submitted by April.

About April

Pioneer of free software in France, April is since 1996 a major player in the democratisation and the spread of Free Software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in the French-speaking world. In the digital era that is ours, it also aims to inform the public on the dangers of an exclusive appropriation ofinformation an knowledge by private interests.

The association has over 5,000 members, using or producing Free Software.

For more information, you may go to the following website: http://www.april.org/, contact us by phone at +33 178 769 280 or through our contact form.

Press contacts:

Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director, fcouchet@april.org +33 660 688 931
Jeanne Tadeusz, Public Affairs Officer, jtadeusz@april.org +33 1 78 76 92 82
Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, Volunteer Advisor on patents brevets, gibus@unitary-patent.eu +33 6 60 56 36 45

This press release was first published on April website .

  • 1. The compromise text was nevertheless published by PC INpact.
  • 2. The three "red lines" are:
    • The legal foundation of Article 118 must not be tampered with
    • The procedure before the European Court of Justice must not be challenged
    • The European Parliament's rights must not be violated
    On this subject, see also the press release from FFI.
  • 3. document from the Council 15856/11 about the lawfulness of the unified jurisdiction vis-à-vis the opinion 1/09 from the Court of Justice of the European Union.