Barnier presents plans for EU-wide patent regime
Member states and the European Parliament are about to start discussions that may be the final stage on the road to a unitary EU patent.
The European Commission yesterday (13 April) presented its proposals for a patent regime that would apply in every country of the EU apart from Spain and Italy, which oppose the plan on the grounds of language discrimination.
The EU is using the ‘enhanced co-operation’ process to adopt the proposals, because of the two countries’ opposition.
The move comes despite a ruling on 8 March by the European Court of Justice that an international court set up to adjudicate in cases of patent disputes would not be compatible with EU law. The Commission is to publish plans for jurisdiction arrangements at the beginning of May that should overcome this obstacle.
Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the internal market, said yesterday that the Commission was “studying very carefully” recommendations issued by the court to ensure that the arrangements comply with EU law.
A delay could also arise from a challenge that Spain has signalled it will make to the enhanced co-operation proposals. It has until 8 May to submit its objections.
The Commission has published two proposals, one relating to patent registration, the other to translation arrangements. For the former, a qualified majority of the 25 member states involved must vote in favour, as must the Parliament. For the latter, there must be unanimous agreement among the 25 member states, after consultation with the Parliament.
Under the language regime, applicants will be able to file for a patent in any language, but if the language chosen is not English, French or German, the filing must be accompanied by a translation into one of those three languages. The patent would then be granted in whichever of these three languages the applicant chooses. For a transitional period of up to 12 years, patents granted in French or German will need to be translated – at the patent holder’s expense – into English, and those granted in English will have to translated into another EU official language.
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