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Decades long wait for EU patent finally over


06 Dec 2011


Trade & Society

After nearly 40 years of stalemate, the European Union is on the brink of approving a unitary patent regime that aims to simplify costs, cut red-tape and enhance competitiveness for EU businesses.

Due to linguistic dispute over the decision to focus on translation into only three community languages (EN, FR, DE), Italy and Spain are not participating so the measures are being introduced by the 'enhanced cooperation' procedure involving the other 25 Member States.

A deal on the three elements of the package was struck last week (1st December) by the Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators and endorsed by COREPER on Friday. It is expected that ministers in the Competitiveness Council will approve the deal today followed by the European Parliament plenary in January. The Regulation should come into force by 2014.

Cecilia Wikstrom (Folkpartiet, Sweden), ALDE shadow rapporteur on the patent regulation and court agreement said:

"Even as we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis in the history of the European Union we must look forward and focus on the reforms that will help European increase competitiveness in the months ahead. We need to continue strengthening cooperation and removing barriers in the internal market. The prospect of a single European patent regime is a key plank to promoting innovation and making EU companies as competitive as their global rivals in the US, Japan and BRIC countries."

ALDE shadow rapporteur on the linguistic arrangements, Alexandra Thein (FDP, Germany) said:

"Given the time and effort it has taken to create this unitary patent, it represents a genuinely historic agreement. It is the missing link from the EU's Single Market and will ensure that innovative companies can quickly obtain legal security over their patents in one registration and a single payment of fees. The measures should be of particular benefit for the SME sector which provides most of the new ideas as well as jobs. The EU patent will unlock this potential to everyone's benefit."

The package comprises a regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of unitary patent protection, implementing measures and provisions to set up a unitary patent court. Once in effect, the package should reduce current patenting costs by up to 80% and eliminate the legal confusion of operating in several different legal environments.



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