On September 11 the EPO President Mr Battistelli met in Rome with the Undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development Ms Vicari in order to discuss the imminent introduction of the unitary patent package.

During the meeting, Mr Battistelli stated that Italy’s recent decision to adhere to the unitary patent is very good news for Europe.

The Italian dossier is presently in the hands of the European Commission, which needs to assess whether Italy meets the accession requirements by November 2015.

Based on information available to the Italian press, it appears that the European Commission’s assessment will surely lead to a positive answer, which is likely to be rendered already in September or October 2015. This was also confirmed by Ms Vicari, who stated that she is confident that the formal procedure will be competed as early as within the present month.

Not surprisingly, it appears that in mid October Italy will sit for the first time in the Select Committee that is responsible for deciding, among other things, the financial distribution of the unitary patent system among the adhering states.

According to the Italian financial newspaper Sole 24 Ore, on behalf of the Italian government Ms Vicari has requested at least double the reimbursement of the translation expenses and a significant reduction of costs and financial burden for SMEs which will use the Unified Patent Court for litigation purposes. At the same time, while Ms Vicari confirmed that the Italian parliament will proceed expeditiously with the necessary ratifications of the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court agreement, it is unlikely that Italy will be able to complete all that is necessary before 2016.

Furthermore, during the meeting Mr Battistelli has stated that it is possible that Italy will also host one of the Unified Patent Court’s sites. Mr Battistelli stated that this would be appropriate because Italy’s manufacturing SMEs represent an important entrepreneurial asset and the Italian judges are highly qualified. According to Mr Battistelli, Italy should work to become a reference point for neighboring countries as well.

Italy is the fourth most important in the European Union, both in terms of population and of GDP. Furthermore, Italy is an important country for European patents. In fact, based on EPO statistics European patent owners validate their patents on average in 3-4 countries, and Italy is the fourth most designated country, presently having a validation rate of 44%. As a result, Italy’s adhesion to the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court will surely be an important development for the European Union’s economy as a whole.

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