Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

MEPs blast "illegal" attempt to re-write patent rules

  • (Photo: European Commission)

A last-minute deal by governments to re-write the torturously agreed rules on a single EU patent breaks community law, according to lawyers working for the European Parliament.

In a legal opinion on the proposal, Parliament's legal service said that while member states were legally entitled to propose amendments to the bill, the articles they took out - numbers 6 to 8 - remove an "essential element".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Moreover, it would breach the provision in the EU treaties to adopt "measures for the creation of European intellectual property rights to provide uniform protection of intellectual property rights".

Removal of the three articles would mean that "the act would not permit the uniform protection of intellectual property rights throughout the Union and, consequently, would not comply with the requirements laid down in Article 118", the opinion concluded.

The latest hold-up to the deal came as France, Germany and the UK each insisted on hosting the patent court in their country.

Under the compromise hammered out at the EU summit two weeks ago, the main headquarters of the Unified Patent Court would be in Paris, with London hosting the court dealing with life sciences and chemistry patents, and Munich handling engineering.

However, the eleventh-hour concession to Britain, by stripping articles 6-8 of the law concerning the role of the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice in patent disputes, provoked fury amongst MEPs. The articles include the right of patent holders to prevent the use of their invention as well as limitations on the patent itself.

MEPs first responded to a deal struck at the June Council summit ten days ago by cancelling a parliamentary vote in Strasbourg last Wednesday (4 July) that would have ratified the deal. Klaus-Hehner Lehne, the German centre-right MEP who chairs the Legal Affairs committee, then called on the Parliament's legal service to analyse the legality of the Council deal.

At a fractious hearing (10 July) of the Parliament's Legal Affairs committee following the release of the paper, MEPs led by German socialist Bernhard Rapkay, who heads the Parliament's negotiations on the file, described the proposals as "illegal" and "totally irresponsible".

He also insisted that he would not re-negotiate on the new terms, adding that the EU institutions should use the upcoming parliamentary recess for "a period of reflection".

However, Saj Karim, a British conservative member of the committee, insisted that the referral system spelt out in the articles were "inappropriate". Meanwhile, MEPs from the Liberal group, led by Swedish MEP Cecilia Wikström, indicated that a deal could still be salvaged.

Negotiations between MEPs and ministers are expected to resume in September in an attempt to bridge the gap between the institutions.

Parliament agreed its position at first reading and is reluctant to negotiate on the basis of the new member-state compromise. Failure to bridge the gap would see the regulation return to the Legal Affairs committee for a second reading, adding a further delay and the possibility of re-opening other articles in the text.

European patents currently cost €35,000 according to figures provided by the European Patent Office (EPO) roughly ten times the cost in the US. Supporters of a common patent system say that it could cut costs by up to 80 percent.

Angry MEPs postpone patent vote

Just days after being hailed as solved, the EU decades-long quest for a single patent hit an unexpected snag on Monday evening when MEPs postponed a vote on the draft patent claiming member states had "emasculated" the proposal.

Focus

British MPs demand London court to counter EU patent costs

MPs on the UK's House of Commons European Scrutiny committee have demanded that the new EU patent court be based in London in order to mitigate against what it described as "the most damaging effects of a unitary EU-wide patent".

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

News in Brief

  1. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  2. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  3. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  4. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  5. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  6. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents
  7. Hahn: EU to back entry talks with Albania and Macedonia
  8. UEFA signs deal to promote 'European values' at EURO 2020

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  2. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  3. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  4. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  5. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  6. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  7. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  8. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe