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Single Patent for EU

After decades of political wrangling, the European Union is poised to introduce a single patent system to reduce red tape and application costs for researchers and companies.

By | December 12, 2012

WikimediaThe European Union (EU) looks set to introduce a unified patent system in 2014 after the European Parliament this week (December 11) voted in favor of the change. If ratified, the new system will provide uniform legal protection across 25 European countries with a single patent and reduce application costs and paperwork in the hope of making Europe more competitive in innovation-led industries like biotechnology.

At the moment, researchers and companies seeking protection for their inventions in Europe are forced to apply separately to 27 different jurisdictions in 23 different languages. A single patent system was first proposed in 1973, but the idea got stuck in a political quagmire as member states fought over the details.

The proposed system would make the process far simpler, cutting down on red tape and reducing the price tag for applicants. According to the EU, the costs of a Europe-wide patent would fall from the current rate of around €36,000 ($47,000) to €6,400 ($8,500). Although that’s still notably higher than the $2,390 required for a US patent, EU leaders hope that the reduced costs will help Europe catch up with its global competitors in terms of translating scientific research into commercial products.

Under the new system, single patent applications will have to be submitted in English, French, or German. For that reason, Italy and Spain have so far refused to take part, and have even filed a legal challenge. But their case suffered a setback this week after a top advisor to Europe’s highest court recommended dismissing the action.

(Hat tip to ScienceInsider)

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Avatar of: fingermoving

fingermoving

Posts: 1

December 12, 2012

This must be a step in the right direction but it does not address the major problem in exploiting scientific discovery. This is that in Europe intellectual property protection comes from first publication and patents must be filed before publication. In many cases the discovering scientist may not recognize the possible area of exploitation and, in Europe, then loses out. In the USA first discovery is the basis on which patents are granted and this problem does not arise.

Attempts to alter the situation in Europe - for example by allowing an "autoimmune" exemption that would allow the authors of first publication to file patents for a finite period (say 6months) after publication failed because (I believe) it was opposed by large companies.

However, if our Government are serious about wanting better exploitation of scientific discovery in the UK, this is an issue they have to address; and the scientific community will need to get used to having their lab books signed off each day or so.

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