The European Parliament has voted to accept a hard-fought compromise package which has taken nearly forty years to negotiate. Two states,SpainandItaly, have declined to take part on the grounds that their languages are not included in the patent filing process.
Andrew Duff MEP, who represents the important cluster of science research in the East of England, commented:
“Today sees a huge break-through for European innovation and competitiveness. The final agreement on a unitary patent will greatly reduce red tape and costs for businesses across Europe.
“The judicial system is complicated by the fact that two states have not joined in on the grounds of linguistic envy. But the ultimate authority of the European Court of Justice is assured, and we can expect the gradual growth of case-law which will build confidence in the unitary system.
“Those who fear that software developments will now be clobbered by excessive patenting by large firms can be reassured: software remains within the realm of copyright law.
“It is remarkable that British Green and UKIP MEPs have united in their opposition to this new EU patent system. One can only speculate as to what solution they have to the current fractured state of European intellectual property.”
Lib Dem MEP for London, Sarah Ludford, added:
“Finally, following almost 40 years of negotiations a single EU patent has arrived. This is a really important historic achievement – though none too soon – that will reduce costs by up to 80%, improving the competitive position of UK businesses in relation to the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper.”
“The fact that the ‘Life Sciences’ section of the future EU patent court will be located in London is a great tribute to the capital’s leadership in chemical and medical research. The new law will make EU-wide patents easier and cheaper to obtain for eventual commercial application arising from work in this field. This is great news for the Francis Crick Institute, currently being built at St Pancras, bringing together several research institutes to form be the largest biomedical research laboratory in Europe when it opens in 2015.”
At present, patents have to be registered in each European country separately. In future, an applicant will now be able to register a unitary patent in any EU language and the request will be processed by the European Patent Office in English, French or German. Automatic translation services will be accessible free of charge in all EU languages in order to keep costs down for SMEs, universities, research organisations and ordinary citizens. TheEuropean Patent Courtwill be split in three locations withParisas the administrative centre,Munichas the centre for mechanical engineering andLondonas the hub for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.