02 July 2012

Europe agrees single patent system

European Union leaders have agreed to introduce a common patent system, paving the way for improved and cheaper enforcement of intellectual property rights.

"After 30 years of discussions on a European patent, we reached an agreement on the last outstanding issue, the seat of the Unified Patent Court," said EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

The new scheme will bring an end to the disjointed and expensive current system, where it typically costs a company or an inventor up to €28,000 to protect an idea throughout the European Union.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed on Friday to split the court between Munich, Paris and London, depending the type of patent.

Anyone wishing to challenge an infringement of their patent in life sciences can do so in London, while cases concerning engineering and physics will be dealt with in Munich. The court's headquarters are to be located in Paris.

Matthew Fell, CBI director for competitive markets, said: "Businesses will be reassured that the European Patent scheme will not fall under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, because of the risks involved in a non-specialised court having a say in decisions over their intellectual property.

"Securing a high quality patent system was always the main priority for businesses, rather than squabbling over the location of the patent court. The move to split the European patent court between Paris, London and Munich seems a sensible compromise, and will draw on the UK's expertise in life sciences."

Author
Laura Hopperton

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