Officials: European Patent In Five Years, London Protocol By End Of Year 23/04/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen MUNICH – If high-ranking officials speaking at a recent European Patent Office (EPO) meeting are right, the European fight over languages in patent applications may be over by the end of this year following France’s election, and Europe could have a Community patent within the next five years. A Community patent would mean that instead of having patents being administered by national offices, including those that have been approved centrally in EPO, one patent would be valid in all of Europe. The talks have been stuck for a long time. But the European Commission recently pushed again to revive talks on an EU-wide patent in a communication to the European Parliament and Council of member state representatives, proposing to harmonise the litigation system for patents, eventually leading to a central appeal court and a Community patent (IPW, European Policy, 4 April 2007). The idea got a boost at the 18-19 European Patent Forum/PATINNOVA 07, co-sponsored by the EPO and the European Commission (IPW, European Policy, 19 April 2007). Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and President of the Council of the European Union, and Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen (Germany) called for strong support. On language, it would mean that every member state would implement the 2000 London Protocol (Agreement), which proposes to have three official languages for patent applications (German, English and French) instead of all the official EU languages. Merkel said Europe has to move “very quickly” on the Community patent and the London Protocol, and the Germany EU presidency would push the reform of the patent litigation system forward, but not half-heartedly. Verheugen said he believed the Community patent could come into effect within the next five years. He said the Commission has not yet had any reaction to the communication. Verheugen told Intellectual Property Watch that a Community patent would not lead to more patenting but rather better quality patents. He said the effort was mainly to address the cost of patents in Europe. The European patent system is, over the patent term of 20 years, nine times more expensive than the United States and Japanese counterparts, he said. Verheugen said that protection of IP is not sufficient in Europe and is “terribly fragmented.” He said the Community often works together when it is not vital, but not in areas where it is vital, such as intellectual property, security and foreign policy. He said that the EU was setting up a helpdesk for small and medium-sized companies on China-related IP questions, and that IP constitutes an important part of an EU-US economic partnership. EPO President Alain Pompidou said that Merkel had revived the patent debate. He said the EPO supports the idea of a Community patent, which he called a “sleeping beauty.” Last Barrier to London Protocol? Pompidou and others predicted that the London Protocol would be approved by the end of 2007. It has been “dead” in recent years, mainly because France has opposed it. To enter into force, the London Agreement must be ratified by at least eight contracting states, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, EPO said. French Senator Richard Yung told Intellectual Property Watch that “hopefully” the protocol would be adopted after the election (6 May) as there was mainly one advisor to President Jacques Chirac who opposes it. Yung said that he had deposited a bill in parliament but it would be up to the government to put it on the agenda. But he expected it to be adopted by a “strong majority” as two-thirds support it, including conservatives as well as labour, and only the extreme left and right would likely oppose it. Yung said he had talked to one of the candidates, Ségolène Royal, who said she would support it. Yung expects France to ratify the new version of the 2000 European Convention together with the London Protocol by the end of the year, he said. Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at email@example.com. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Officials: European Patent In Five Years, London Protocol By End Of Year" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.