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IP NEWS: EU’s Green Light for a Single EU Patent Application

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 21:32

After more than ten years of discussion, on December 14th, 2010 the European Commission has made a much welcomed proposal for “enhanced cooperation” to create "a unitary patent protection" within the EU with the aim to allow Member States or those thereof who so desire to participate thereat, to agree on establishing a patent by means of a single application.

This proposed approach should not only lead to a faster approval process of a patent application but should also render the expenses for patent registration less costly particularly in terms of the translation requirements prescribed by the present European Patent System; for example, the costs for a European Patent approved in thirteen Member States may be as much as € 18,000 of which approximately € 10,000 would be accounted for its translation costs. The registration of a US Patent costs about € 2,000.

Consequently, the proposed Single EU Patent should encourage more research, promote innovative ideas and therefore enhance further competitiveness on the European scenario but it does not come without any hurdles which still need to be surmounted in particular the language requirements which did not find the unanimous agreement of the EU Council.  

EU Commissioner responsible for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier opines that "Filing for patents in Europe is a costly and complicated affair, making it available only to those companies who have deep pockets."

Barnier further comments that "The unacceptable reality is that on average innovators validate and protect their patents in only 5 of the EU's 27 Member States because of the high costs. European inventors can afford no further delay. This is why the Commission proposes that some Member States should be able to move ahead for a unitary patent protection, and I hope that over time all Member States will join this new system."

Next year, the Commission should be presenting its detailed proposals for the implementation of the enhanced cooperation it is promoting for unitary patent protection, including the translation requirements.