Landmark agreements on EU single patent system

Posted on 28 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

In Luxembourg this week plans were agreed that, if implemented, means EU firms will be able to protect their intellectual property with a single patent valid across all 25 member states.

If the single patent system becomes a reality, it will remove a huge amount of red tape currently inhibiting entrepreneurs from being able to protect their intellectual property. It will also reduce the number of obstacles for those businesses wishing to expand overseas.

Although the new agreements reached at the Competition Commission in Luxembourg are encouraging, some have criticised the new plan, claiming that it will harm international trade with Asia and the US as a result of them being excluded from the patent system.

UK Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Wilcox said: “The creation of a single European patent and patent court is crucial for UK industry. We support a European patent system which gives real benefits for business, consumers and the economy. It is vital to offer businesses the same access to patent protection in their home market of Europe, as competitors in the US, China and Japan enjoy in theirs.”

“A unitary patent and court system will save businesses time and money whether they are patent holders or those seeking to challenge patents. The savings to UK business are likely to be around £20 million per year in translations costs alone,” she added.

If the patent is established and the language regime agreed, the cost of translating patents around Europe is likely to be reduced by around 80 percent.

The new system could potentially increase UK national income by £2bn every year by 2020 according to an independent review of intellectual property and growth by Professor Ian Hargreaves. Prof Hargreaves has held senior positions at the BBC, Financial Times, The Independent, and New Statesman. He was a founding non-executive board member of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and an executive board member, and director of Strategic Communications at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

George Archer