EU patent with 23 countries

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The patent deadlock may yet be over, as 23 members of the EU have decided to leave behind the four others and work together to create a single patent system to protect the design of products sold across their borders.


The 23 are moving forward under a rarely used provision of the Lisbon Treaty known as ‘enhanced cooperation’ and present their proposal to the EU ministers in charge of competitiveness on 14 December 2010.

The most recent plan on the table calls for an EU patent that would be translated into English as well as French or German, along with complicated provisions for manual and machine-generated translations into native languages.

However, the plans have enraged Italy, which wants an English-only patent system, and Spain, which says the plans discriminate against Spanish companies.

The other two countries objecting are the Czech Republic, which called for an impact assessment of enhanced cooperation; and Cyprus, which said it still hoped for a unanimous decision.

Europe needs to simplify the patent process in order to protect innovative products, reduce costs and create a judicial system to handle disputes. European companies spend 10 times more on patents than their American and Japanese rivals. A single patent is a critical piece of several EU strategies, including the single market, industrial policy and the ‘Innovation Union’.

The concerted action marks a victory for Belgium, which had pledged to push through a common patent before its six-month presidency ends at the end of December 2010.

Related article

EU patents limp forward

Source: EurActiv

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