As the readers will know, on 18 November 2014, Advocate General Yves Bot published his conclusions in cases C-146/13 and C-147/13, whereby he has proposed that the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) reject the nullity actions filed by the Kingdom of Spain against Regulation (EU) 1257/2012 (Enhanced cooperation) and 1260/2012 (Translation arrangements) of 17 December 2012.  One of the legal grounds on which he based his conclusions in case C-147/13 is that, under European Union (“EU”) law, no principle of equality of languages exists.  If this is so, it is a matter of regret that the Advocate General’s  views on this principle did not reach his fellow French politicians who, by rejecting the “English-only” proposal put forward by the Spanish EU’s presidency in 2010, which Germany was prepared to accept, forced two of the five countries (Spain and Italy; 40%, if my math is correct) normally designated in European patents, out of the joint project aimed at creating a truly European patent with a truly unitary effect.

To justify France’s opposition against the “English-only” solution, on 1 March 2011, Philippe Cochet, former Mayor of Lyon and current member of the French National Assembly, gave the following explanation to the Committee of European Affairs of the French Parliament:

The Commission had studied four options. The one that has been chosen – prosecution, grant and publication in one of the three working languages of the EPO, the claims being translated into the two other working languages – will reconcile simplicity and good efficacy/cost ratio, while responding to legal certainty imperatives and preserving linguistic diversity, in particular the use of French. The patent «everything-English» would obviously have been inacceptable for France.

Fair enough.  But are we not applying a double standard here?

It is of course most respectful for France to be the only member of the EU that opposed the “English-only” solution proposed by Spain to unravel the linguistic imbroglio, and to have put the project at risk due to such opposition.  However, taking into account the background of the discussions that led to the deadlock on the language regime, I am not sure he was judging things by the same standard when he sought to justify the stubborn opposition against the “English-only” solution to the need for “preserving linguistic diversity”.

All in all, I leave to the readers to decide which role should be assigned to Germany, France and Spain in the repertoire of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  The only thing that appears to be clear is that the role of The Good should go to Germany.


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