The European Union has spent a good number of years trying to consolidate bloc-wide intellectual property regimes to improve the efficiency of the Single Market. While a robust Trademark and Copyright framework have been in place for a while, the road to the creation of a European Patent has been a long and hard one. After years of debating several points of disagreement, it seems like the introduction of the “EU Patent” will soon be a reality. The EU adopted two Regulations with respect to the EU Patent on the 17th December 2012.
The new system stands to provide uniform patent protection in all 25 Member States, though Spain and Italy have currently opted out with the possibility of joining later. This protection stands to apply in a manner which gives greater legal certainty and cost efficiency. Recent estimates by the European Commission suggest that once the framework is fully operational, the EU Patent will give protection in all 27 Member States for €5,000, rather than the current €36,000 to apply in each Member State separately. These figures must be taken in context as a patent in the whole US costs €2,000 and in China this costs around €600.
All companies or inventors seeking this type of patent will have to submit their applications to the European Patent Office in Munich, which already existed for the purposes of the European Patent Convention. Patents will be made available in English, French and German although the application can be made in any EU language. Furthermore, there is discussion about benefits being granted to SME’s which will likely consist in reduced costs.
Furthermore, the introduction of a new European Patent Court will centralise the resolution of patent disputes. There will be several dedicated courts overseeing matters relating to different branches of science.