On June 27, 2011 the Council agreed on general approaches on two draft regulations implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of unitary patent protection (11328/11).
The agreement follows two proposals submitted by the Commission last April, and the outcome of the ministerial debate of 30 May. The first proposal prescribes how patent holders can obtain European patents with unitary effect that ensures uniform protection for their invention (9224/11), and the second one contains the translation arrangements (9226/11).
The enhanced cooperation is a procedure enshrined in the EU treaty that allows a group of countries to adopt new common rules when a unanimous EU-wide agreement cannot be reached. The use of enhanced cooperation was requested by 25 out of 27 EU member states with the aim of establishing a unitary patent that will be valid across the territory of the participating member states. All member states except Italy and Spain were in favour of the use of enhanced cooperation. The main obstacle for the creation of a unitary patent valid through the EU (i.e. in all 27 member states) is the lack of unanimity on the number of languages in which the future unitary patent will be valid, hence the recourse to enhanced cooperation.
Enhanced cooperation is open to non-participating countries, and access to the unitary patent on the territory of participating member states will also be available to businesses from non-participating member states.
The above are excerpts from a provisional press release of the Council of June 27, 2011