Saturday

21st Oct 2017

'Historic day' as EU patent deal ends 40-year wait

  • Atomium - Brussels' signature monument to scientific research (Photo: O Palsson)

The 40-year-long quest to create a single European patent ended on Tuesday (11 December) when the European Parliament ratified a deal which will come into force in 2014.

Speaking in the assembly in Strasbourg, EU single market commissioner Michel Barnier said that the achievement marked a "historic day."

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.

Under the regime, inventors will be able to apply to the European Patent Office for a patent valid in 25 of the bloc's 27 member states.

Spain and Italy will remain outside the scope of the patent regime in protest that patents will only be available in English, French or German-language versions.

The three legislative files on the unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court, were each backed by wide majorities with over 480 MEPs in favour.

Supporters of a unitary patent claim that it will drastically reduce costs for businesses and entrepreneurs. Europe-wide patents currently cost around €35,000 each, according to the European Patent Office (EPO), almost 10 times the cost in the US. The European Commission says that EU patent costs could fall to €4,725.

However, the Green group broke ranks in opposing the deal, describing its validity as "legally uncertain" and criticising the status of the EPO and its European Patent Court, which is to exist outside the EU treaty framework.

Christian Engstrom - the Swedish Pirate party deputy and the group's spokesman on intellectual property rights - said the proposal "hands control over European innovation policy to patent lawyers with vested interests, and not the democratically elected legislators."

MEPs had previously demanded that the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ), which acts as arbiter on the application of EU law, should always be the first port of call for patent disputes, but now the patent court will play that role instead.

They had also criticised moves made in July by ministers to strip Articles 6 to 8 out of the patent law, which covered the right for patent holders to prevent the use of their invention for some applications and to put other limitations on their patents.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, German centre-left MEP, Bernhard Rapkay, admitted that the deal was "a sub-optimal solution."

He added that MEPs had come under intense pressure from lobbyists to veto the deal in the weeks leading up to the vote.

Meanwhile, parliament legal Affairs committee chair Klaus Hehne Lehne told reporters that the rules would strengthen the EU's hand when negotiating on patent rules with China.

"We have closed an important gap in the single market," added the German centre-right deputy.

For his part, Jonathan Zuck, President of the Association for Competitive Technology, said the new system would "remove a major hurdle to innovation and growth" by protecting small businesses form "fragmented national legislation."

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".

Opinion

Why are our medicines so expensive?

The EU should be promoting open innovation in upcoming trade talks with India and should work to bring down the prices of essential medicines, both abroad and within its borders.

Agenda

EU elections on the agenda this WEEK

European Parliament elections will feature on the agenda this week after a poll to choose 12 new MEPs in Croatia on Sunday.

Focus

Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020

A committee resolution said the proposal to renew the glyphosate permit for a decade "fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment".

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks