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On 11 December 2012 the European Parliament approved a unitary European patent package consisting of two EU regulations, one providing for unitary nature of European patents and the other providing a translation regime, and a multinational Unified Patents Court. The two regulations will now need to be formally adopted by the EU council and the EU parliament, and the Court agreement will need to be signed and ratified by the individual countries concerned.
Also on 11 December, the advocate general delivered an opinion recommending that Spain and Italy's challenge to the legality of the system setting up unitary patent protection be dismissed. We expect the European Court of Justice to deliver a final decision on this challenge early next year.
These events mark significant progress in the creation of unitary patent protection in 25 of the member states of the EU. It is possible that the European Patent Office will grant its first European patent with unitary effect in 2014.