A brighter future for the EU patent
11 EU member states have decided to move towards an EU patent under an enhanced cooperation aiming to reduce costs of patenting in the EU.
Progress towards implementation of the long desired EU patent has until now been hindered by disagreements between the EU member states regarding translation requirements. However, at a meeting at the Council of the European Union on 10th December it was decided by a group of member states to ask the Commission to present a formal proposal for initiating a so-called “enhanced cooperation” to move ahead on the creation of an unified EU patent system. An enhanced cooperation is a last resort option when at least nine member states agree to proceed to reach a goal for which unanimity cannot be reached by all member states. At the meeting the sufficient number of states, i.e. Denmark, Germany, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and the UK, thus authorised the Commission to submit the legislative proposal, which will be submitted on 14th December.
It is expected that the EU patent emerging from the enhanced cooperation will significantly reduce costs for translations by letting the European Patent Office prosecute the application in English, German or French with no further immediate translations required. The states supporting the enhanced cooperation are all parties to the London Agreement and thus already have reduced translation requirements compared to other member states/EPC-countries. However, the EU patent system may allow a further reduction of the translation costs by no longer requiring a translation of the patent claims, and moreover it may also provide a simplified procedure for validation of the patent once granted. Additional expectations from the EU patent system are that machine translations of published patent applications will be made available on demand, online and free of charge.
When the enhanced cooperation is implemented it will be open to other member states wishing to join in.
Keep track of the progress of the EU patent system on the websites of the Council: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/app/newsroom/PressHome.aspx?id=221&lang=EN and the Commision: http://ec.europa.eu/news/index_en.htm
Anders Heebøll-Nielsen, European Patent Attorney, Awapatent