The European unit Patent moves forward

The European patent for improving European competitiveness was approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs and the negotiators of the Council Presidency

MEPs succeeded in adapting the proposed regime to small firms’ needs, but the deal still needs to approved by Parliament as a whole and the 25 EU Member States involved.

Parliament’s rapporteurs struck a political agreement with the Polish Presidency of the Council on the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) that form the “EU patent package”. The agreement will have now to be confirmed by both the Parliament (after a vote in committee) and the Council. The regulation should enter into force in 2014.

The aim of creating an EU patent is twofold. First to reduce current patenting costs by up to 80%, so as to improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper. Second, it should help to avoid the legal confusion created when dealing with differing national patent laws.

MEPs aim to cut costs for small firms

The first piece of legislation in the package is a regulation setting up a unitary patent protection system. The agreed text largely reflects the Commission proposal, and in particular a provision allowing inventors from countries currently outside the procedure to apply for an EU patent.

Specific provisions have been introduced to ensure that small firms benefit from reduced costs and a sound system for distributing patent renewal fees. (Renewal fees account for a big share of total costs, and the economic sustainability of the system as a whole depends upon them).

What language for EU-wide patents?

The proposed regime for translating EU patents would make them available in German, English and French, although applications could be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.

Enforcing protection

An international agreement is currently being negotiated by Member States participating in the procedure to create a unified patent court so as to reduce costs and uncertainty as to the law due to differing national interpretations.

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