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    EU Patent Advances: Parliament Could Vote In February, Court Location Still Up In Air

    Published on 22 December 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee approval this week of a plan for a single patent for participating European Union members sets the stage for a February plenary vote in Parliament. But members’ inability to agree on where to locate the new unified patent litigation court means the Polish presidency won’t get to see finalisation of the process that will now head into 2012 under the guidance of Denmark.

    The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) on 20 December agreed to support a package negotiated and agreed on 1 December by the Parliament, Commission (the EU executive body) and Council (the governments). The JURI has the lead on this issue in Parliament.

    The three-part package creates a patent system with automatic unitary protection for participating EU countries, and establishes a language regime wherein filing may be in any EU language at first but must later be translated into English, French or German (the three procedural languages of the European Patent Office in Munich). The third part of the package is to establish a unified litigation court, but at least three cities – London, Munich and Paris – are vying to be the host, according to sources.

    Because agreement could not be reached on location this week, Poland, in the six-month rotating EU presidency, called off a conference scheduled for today in Warsaw, according to sources. Instead, the issue will be left to the Danish presidency, which begins on 1 January.

    “Since the court forms an inseparable part of the parcel, however, and cannot be dealt separately, the Polish EU Presidency conceded that the dossier cannot be concluded until the end of its term,” said an observer. Still, some took the view in recent weeks that Poland had done more to move the EU patent concept along than most.

    The location involves the seat of the “central division” of the litigation court, and will be responsible for second-instance validity decisions on unitary patents. At least some costs would be supported by the host country, EPO President Benoit Battistelli told journalists at a recent briefing in Brussels. The location should have highly qualified judges, as they will become European judges. “They will have two hats in the beginning,” he said.

    “What we are creating is something very new,” he said of the court, as up to now, the European Court of Justice was only for conflicts between public institutions, not between private parties. Battistelli said the changes to an EU patent would create even more need for the EPO.

    Hope is being held out that the full package will be up for approval at the parliamentary plenary session scheduled for 14 February, sources said. This, along with the Council approval, would put the new patent into effect. It is understood that no part of the package can go into effect until all parts are agreed, sources said. It is also said that any member who disagrees with the package could decide not to adopt it but it would still go into effect for the rest.

    The new EU patent will be “substantially cheaper” than current ones, the Parliament said in a press release issued after the JURI approval. Costs could be about €680 euros compared with an average of €1,850 euros for a patent filed in the United States.

    In the negotiations, Parliament added amendments aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses take advantage of the new system, it said. The measures range “from stronger legal protection to full compensation of translation costs,” Parliament said. The body also obtained “an improvement in the rules on how patent offices share renewal fees, upon which the economic sustainability of the whole system lies.”

    The current agreement involves 25 of the 27 EU countries, and was struck after a way was found to get around a disagreement over languages that had stalled the process for years. The legislation is being addressed under the so-called “enhanced cooperation procedure”, in which groups of EU members can integrate their policies even without the agreement of some other members.

    Spain and Italy have steadfastly insisted that filings should be allowed in their languages too, and have chosen not to participate in the patent system to date. Both countries have challenged the process at the European Court of Justice, arguing it is discriminatory and will distort competition. Those countries could join the decision-making process at any time, Parliament said, adding: “This procedure was adopted to unblock the file, long stalled over language issues.”

    Under current rules, the only way to obtain European-wide protection is to validate a patent in each EU member state, through the European Patent Office (EPO), which extends beyond the EU. The costs of doing this, especially related to translation into each country’s language, can make a European patent 10 times more expensive than a US one, Parliament said.

    The unified patent court will further cut costs and “reduce current legal uncertainty due to differing national interpretations,” it said.

    The Parliament release described the new application process this way: “Any inventor would be able to apply for an EU patent ensuring protection in all the 25 EU Member States concerned. Patents will be made available in English, French and German, but applications may be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.”

    The EPO has spelled out the potential changes of the unitary patent system here.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Danish EU Presidency Priorities Include Research, Innovation, IP Rights | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Intellectual property came up specifically in the section on Competitiveness. Denmark confirmed it will continue to push a unitary patent in a number of EU states. “The Presidency will carry forward the effort to introduce a unitary patent system and the establishment of a European unified patent court system,” it said. “The objective is to strengthen the basis for innovation and contribute to boosting European companies’ competitiveness at global level.” But it did not provide details on how it will proceed following the Polish presidency’s gains in December (IPW, European Policy, 22 December 2011). [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

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    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

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