EC suggests new compromise on an EU patent system
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A new communication was published on 3 April 2007 by the European Commission
(EC) on enhancing the patent system in Europe, suggesting new ways of
creating a Community patent.
The communication supports a compromise between the European Patent
Litigation Agreement supported by the European Patent Office and the
Commission’s Community Patent, with its own courts system. The new
integrated EU-wide jurisdictional system for patents combing the two
elements is aimed to revitalise the debate on a patent system in Europe, in
a way which encourages Member States to work towards consensus and real
progress on this issue.
“Recent discussions with Member States show polarised positions on patent
jurisdiction arrangements with, on the one hand, Member States supporting
the draft EPLA in the context of the European Patent Convention, and, on the
other hand, Member States favouring the establishment of a specific
Community jurisdiction for patent litigation on European and Community
patents based on the EC Treaty.
Under these circumstances, the Commission believes that consensus could be
built on the basis of an integrated approach which combines elements of both
EPLA and a Community jurisdiction.”
There are still two big problems faced by any attempt to harmonise patent
law: the costs of translation and the difficulties in setting up a legal
framework to deal with litigation.
As regards the latter, FFII President Pieter Hintjen says that this proposal
is based on flawed assumptions and will make it easier for large US
companies to sue small European IT firms.
He explains, “The EU is following the US down the risky path of a central
patent jurisdiction, when this experiment has failed miserably in the US.”
New studies to be presented at a conference organised by the FFII in
Brussels in May, show that in all industries except pharmaceutics, the US
patent system has slowed-down, not promoted, innovation.
Based on the stakeholder consultations from last year, the new communication
will be promoted by the current German EU presidency and the Portuguese
presidency beginning in July that seem very eager to move the issue forward.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the
Council – Enhancing the patent system in Europe (29.03.2007)
Patents: Commission sets out vision for improving patent system in Europe
Commission bids to salvage EU patent law (4.04.2007)
Single EU patent law good for US giants, bad for small EU firms (4.04.2007)
European Commission compromise on pan-European patent
EDRI-gram: ENDitorial – Regulating the Patent Industry (25.10.2006)