IPPT20110308, CJEU, Opinion on unified patent litigation system

16-03-2011 Print this page



Unified patent litigation system incompatible with
European Law


No monopoly Court of Justice for IP disputes
• As regards Article 262 TFEU, that article cannot preclude the creation of the PC. While it is true that under that provision there can be conferred on the Court some of the powers which it is proposed to grant to the PC, the procedure described in that article is not the only conceivable way of creating a unified patent court.


New judicial structure - fundamental elements of EU legal order
• Since the draft agreement establishes, in essence, a new court structure, it is appropriate to bear in mind, first, the fundamental elements of the legal order and judicial system of the European Union, as designed by the founding Treaties and developed by the caselaw of the Court, in order to assess whether the creation of the PC is compatible with those elements.


Patent Court is outside EU judicial framework
• As regards the characteristics of the PC, it must first be observed that that court is outside the institutional and judicial framework of the European Union. It is not part of the judicial system provided for in Article 19(1) TEU. The PC is an organisation with a distinct legal personality under international law.


Interpretation and application of  EU law
• By contrast, the international court envisaged in this draft agreement is to be called upon to interpret and apply not only the provisions of that agreement but also the future regulation on the Community patent and other instruments of European Union law, in particular regulations and directives in conjunction with which that regulation would, when necessary, have to be read, namely provisions relating to other bodies of rules on intellectual property, and rules of the FEU Treaty concerning the internal market and competition law. Likewise, the PC may be called upon to determine a dispute pending before it in the light of the fundamental rights and general principles of European Union law, or even to examine the validity of an act of the European Union.


Member States confer jurisdiction on actions between individuals to a court created by international agreement
While it is true that the Court has no jurisdiction to rule on direct actions between individuals in the field of patents, since that jurisdiction is held by the courts of the Member States, nonetheless the Member States cannot confer the jurisdiction to resolve such disputes on a court created by an international agreement which would deprive those courts of their task, as ‘ordinary’ courts within the European Union legal order, to implement European Union law and, thereby, of the power provided for in Article 267 TFEU, or, as the case may be, the obligation, to refer questions for a preliminary ruling in the field concerned.


Exclusive jurisdiction in field of Community patents would alter the essential character of powers which are indispensable to preservation of the very nature of EU law.
• Consequently, the envisaged agreement, by conferring on an international court which is outside the institutional and judicial framework of the European Union an exclusive jurisdiction to hear a significant number of actions brought by individuals in the field of the Community patent and to interpret and apply European Union law in that field, would deprive courts of Member States of their powers in relation to the interpretation and application of European Union law and the Court of its powers to reply, by preliminary ruling, to questions referred by those courts and, consequently, would alter the essential character of the powers which the Treaties confer on the institutions of the European Union and on the Member States and which are indispensable to the preservation of the very nature of European Union law.

IPPT20110308, CJEU, Opinion on unified patent litigation system