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EU patent for the umpteenth time

July 2011 - Intellectual Property. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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The European Commission has introduced a proposal for closer cooperation on a common EU patent system. 25 countries are expected to vote in favour of the proposal.
The plans for a common EU patent system looked set to fail as the Council of Ministers once again stumbled over the translation issue. Spain and Italy were not prepared to accept that only patents written in English, German or French would be valid in the two countries. Click here to read more.
But the Northern European countries would not let Spain and Italy have the last word in the matter. They therefore asked the Commission to introduce a proposal for closer cooperation which each individual EU country could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.
Subsequently, the EU Court put a stop to the plans of setting up a common European patent litigation system to match the common EU patent, holding that the plans for a common patent litigation system were incompatible with the EU treaties. Click here to read more.
Commission tries again
The Commission has now introduced the Northern European countries’ proposal for closer cooperation on a common EU patent. 25 countries are expected to vote 'yes’ – ie all member countries except Spain and Italy.
The proposal is intended to create a patent which is valid in all member countries that have opted to join the system and which will give patent holders the same rights in all participant countries.
Under the proposal, all patent applications must be filed with the European Patent Office. If an application is not in French, German or English, it will have to be translated. The translation costs will not be payable by the applicant.
If a patent is issued in English, it will have to be translated into German or French and vice versa. This practice will be followed for a transitional period of up to 12 years. After that, the EPO is expected to have machine translations of such a quality that no official translation will be needed.
The Commission’s proposal will now be considered by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. For the time being, the Commission has not introduced a proposal for a common EU patent litigation system as the Commission is still considering the implications of the EU Court's opinion.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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