Unitary Patent Hidden in the French Bill on Higher Education and Research

Update, Friday 21 June 2013, 22:50: Amendment 1 was not defended during the public session of 19 June —Senators were not present— and Amendment 23 was defended by Valérie Létard. Minister Geneviève Fioraso said that, while she approved the principle of the amendment, the Bill on Higher Education and Research was not the proper legislative vehicle for it. She pointed out that an arbitration had taken place and that Thierry Repentin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of European Affairs, will introduce a bill specifically aimed at Unitary Patent ratification before the end of the year. Valérie Létard then withdrew her amendment.

Amendments authorizing the ratification of the agreement on the Unified Patent Court have been filed to the French Bill on Higher Education and Research. They will be debate for the first time in the Senate (Upper House).

April objects to this legislative method, which buries the debate on such an important and dangerous issue as the unitary patent in a text on a completely different subject matter. It is unfortunate that the Bill on Higher Education and Research, which April is following closely, is subject to this kind of legislative rider.

One of the amendments on the subject (Amendment 1) was filed by Senators Raoul, Sutour and Yung -- all proponents of a bill seeking to authorize the ratification of the Unified Patent Court agreement. The career of Senator Yung sheds light on his interest in this issue: he is the former head of the National Industrial Property Institute, a former General Administrative Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and was responsible for international affairs at the European Patent Office; in short, a full member of the patent microcosm.

The other amendment is Amendment 23. Filed by Senator Létard, it serves the same purpose: to ratify —via a law on a completely different subject— an agreement that seriously threatens freedom and innovation.

The bill is being debated via an accelerated procedure, and only one reading per session has been permitted. The Parliament has already ruled on the matter, so it is the only public debate on this issue.

However, the problems with this legislation are far from resolved. For example, the UK government has announced that it will not ratify the agreement until certain issues, particularly those concerning taxation, are resolved1.

The Cultural Affairs Committee of the Senate will consider the amendments on Tuesday, before the debate in public session on 19 June.

For more information on the unitary patent: http://brevet-unitaire.eu/content/home.