The move follows Italy's decision last autumn to formally join 25 other EU countries in backing a new unitary patent framework within the trading bloc.
Unitary patent protection is likely to be available to businesses from next year. Companies will be able to obtain patent protection for their inventions in participating countries through a single patent application to the European Patent Office (EPO) and without having to further validate the patent in each of the individual countries.
Unitary patent protection will only apply in those states which sign and ratify the Agreement on the UPC as well as adopt the unitary patent regulations. Ratification of the Agreement would give legal recognition to the new UPC as a judicial forum for settling disputes concerning the validity and alleged infringement of new unitary patents.
In a statement issued by late last month, the Italian government said ministers in Italy have now endorsed draft legislation to ratify the Agreement, which was put in place in 2013. The legislation still needs to be approved by Italy's parliament.
The Agreement on the UPC needs to be officially ratified by at least 13 EU countries, with that number including France, Germany and, providing it remains an EU member, the UK, for the Agreement to take effect. Currently nine countries, including France, have ratified the Agreement. Draft legislation has also been prepared in the UK and Germany to give recognition to the new unitary patent and UPC regime.
A simulation earlier this year of an injunction hearing under the UPC, organised by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, highlighted some of the issues businesses will need to consider when deciding whether to engage with the UPC.