A single European patent looks ever more likely as ministers reached important agreements on the detail of a unitary patent at the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg today.
For the first time in 60 years, ministers have agreed on the languages regime for the patent – the number of translations which applicants need to file to get their patent. This is a significant achievement for the UK, the Hungarian Presidency and the Commission. They also agreed on the technical details of the patent itself.
As a result it will be easier and cheaper to register patents, with far fewer translations required than at present. The availability of a single patent for the European market will be an incentive for innovation and will enhance the competitiveness of European businesses.
Speaking at the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg, UK Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Wilcox said:
“The creation of a single European patent and patent court is crucial for UK industry. We support a European patent system which gives real benefits for business, consumers and the economy. It is vital to offer businesses the same access to patent protection in their home market of Europe, as competitors in the US, China and Japan enjoy in theirs.
“A unitary patent and court system will save businesses time and money whether they are patent holders or those seeking to challenge patents. The savings to UK business are likely to be around £20 million per year in translations costs alone.”
Agreement of these two regulations, one establishing the patent and one on the language regime for the patent, will radically reduce the cost of translating patents in Europe by up to 80 per cent. This will also allow any company or individual to protect their inventions through a single European patent valid in 25 countries.
A recent independent review of Intellectual Property and Growth by Professor Ian Hargreaves found that establishing a unitary patent would remove IP barriers between EU countries and could increase UK national income by over £2 billion a year by 2020.