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EU countries to proceed with unitary patent system

Date: 17 February 2011
Author: Eddie Walker
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The European Parliament has paved the way for a significant change in European patent law by allowing a group of EU countries to proceed with laws to create a single EU-wide patent, despite opposition from Italy and Spain.
 
Under the current European patent system, a European patent is essentially a bundle of national patents that must be maintained and enforced separately in each designated country.   In addition to this approach being considered at odds to the principles of the EU Internal Market, the high fees and translation costs have long been a concern for industry.  Under the proposed new laws, a single EU-wide patent will be created that is intended to make it easier and cheaper to obtain protection in all 27 member states.
 
To date, the most significant stumbling block in its creation has been the choice of languages (English, French and German only), with Italy and Spain maintaining resistance on this basis.  Although the latest news suggests introduction of the EU patent is closer than ever, after over 30 years of trying, scepticism will remain until this unitary patent system comes into force.
 
Further developments are expected in early March.
 
If you have any questions or require any assistance in relation to this topic, please email Eddie Walker.
 
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