Unitary patent: no abuse of the instrument of enhanced cooperation

Print this page 18-06-2013
IPPT20130416, CJEU, Spain v Council



Council Decision 2011/167/EU of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection legally founded.

"25. That being so, it must be concluded that the competences conferred by Article 118 TFEU fall within an area of shared competences for the purpose of Article 4(2) TFEU and are, in consequence, non-exclusive for the purpose of the first paragraph of Article 20(1) TEU.


37. It follows that the Council’s decision to authorise enhanced cooperation, having found that the unitary patent and its language arrangements could not be established by the Union as a whole within a reasonable period, by no means constitutes circumvention of the requirement of unanimity laid down in the second paragraph of Article 118 TFEU or, indeed, exclusion of those Member States that did not join in making requests for enhanced cooperation. The contested decision, provided that it is compatible with the conditions laid down in Article 20 TEU and in Article 326 et seq. TFEU, which is considered in connection with other pleas in law, does not amount to misuse of powers, but rather, having regard to its being impossible to reach common arrangements for the whole Union within a reasonable period, contributes to the process of integration.


40. Given that every Member State of the Union is a Contracting State of the EPC, the introduction of a European patent with unitary effect between the Member States of the Union, as envisaged by the contested decision, may, as the Kingdom of Spain maintains, be effected by ‘a special agreement’ within the meaning of Article 142 EPC. Nevertheless, contrary to what is claimed by that Member State, it does not follow from that circumstance that the power provided for in Article 20 TEU is used for ends other than those for which it was conferred when Member States of the Union establish such a patent by a measure adopted under enhanced cooperation instead of concluding an international agreement.


59. Having regard to the foregoing, the plea in law alleging breach of the condition that a decision authorising enhanced cooperation is to be adopted only as a last resort must be rejected.


63. In consequence, the applicants’ argument that the protection conferred by that unitary patent would not be advantageous in terms of uniformity, and so of integration, compared to the situation created by the operation of the rules laid down by the EPC, must be rejected as unfounded."


IPPT20130416, CJEU, Spain v Council

C-274/11 and C-295/11 - ECLI:EU:C:2013:240