Unitary Patent: the debate will go on in secret

On November 22nd, 2011, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted for a mandate, allowing the rapporteurs on the proposal for a unitary patent to pursue negotiations with the Commission and the Council behind closed doors, without any involvement from the rest of the Members of Parliament or any reporting to citizens.

April had already denounced1 the lack of democratic control of the proposed system and its possible abuses. Even though the idea of a new unitary patent title within the EU is not problematic in itself, the practical details of the proposed system are a cause for concern : the management of the system would be entrusted to the European Patent Office, an international organisation without any democratic control, that has already attempted to legalise software patents2.

There are many political and legal issues at stake. April warned MEPs and institutions many times about the dangers of this project, as well as about legal uncertainties threatening its legality. Yet this decision, by preventing any public debate, reinforces the feeling that the patent microcosm seeks to establish an opaque and undemocratic system that it could fully control3.

Another item in the negotiated mandate emphasizes those concerns : the European Parliament committed not to change the proposed architecture of the sytem4, even though its architecture is based on neither a consensus nor a vote and we have shown that its compliance with the EU Treaties is questionable, to say the least.

  • 1. See for instance our analysis (in French) on the latest developments on the unitary patent in Europe.
  • 2. For more information, see for instance the conference (in French) by Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, voluntary counsel for April, on the unitary patent. The slides are also available in English.
  • 3. For more information, please read the unitary-patent.eu website.
  • 4. The mandate states that"Parliament is to ensure that the proposed architecture of the system is maintained".