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A single EU patent?

Written by Corinne Day on 08 December 2009

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EU Member States have recently signed an agreement that may lead to a single EU patent.

The agreement was reached at a meeting at the EU Competitiveness Council on Friday. The meeting was chaired by the Swedish Minister for trade who said that she was "proud that the Council has now sent a clear and unambiguous signal to Europe's innovative companies that have long been calling for an improved patent system".

However, the agreement is currently only in a very primitive form and many details, such as the language regime and a single court, will be negotiated well into 2010. For example, Spain will most likely object to any proposals to limit translations of European patents to the European Patent Office's official languages of English, French and German.

Member States have also stated that their agreement for a single EU Patents Court would be dependent on receiving a positive response from the European Court of Justice, which has been asked to consider the legality of a unified patent litigation system. The Court is expected to give its answer next year.

The European Parliament will now consider the proposals of the agreement, which are likely to be negotiated and amended considerably before the final version of the agreement is reached. Watch this space.

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