Parliament approves EU unitary patent rules

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EU inventors will soon be able to get a unitary patent at last. After over 30 years of talks, a new regime will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan. MEPs cut costs for small firms and tailored the regime to their needs, in a compromise deal with the Council endorsed by Parliament on Tuesday,

In three separate voting sessions, MEPs approved the so-called “EU patent package” (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court).

“Intellectual property must not stop at borders. The path towards the introduction of the EU patent was long and troubled, but ultimately it has been worth the effort”, said Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE), the lead MEP on the regulation setting up a unitary patent protection system, “Today’s vote is good news for EU economy and especially for European small and medium enterprises (SMEs)”, he added.

The current European patent regime “is effectively a tax on innovation” said Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT), who led talks on the regime for translating EU patents. “Specific measures for SMEs to fully reimburse translation costs and ensure extra legal protection in the event of counterfeiting” were introduced on Parliament demand, he added.

Legal Affairs Committee Chair Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), who led on the international agreement setting up a unified patent court, said: “People in China are telling us that we cannot have a single market without a unitary patent”. With the new rules “a lot of obstacles for SMEs will be overcome”, he added.

Cheaper and more effective protection

The new patent will be cheaper and more effective than current systems in protecting the inventions of individuals and firms. The new regime will provide automatic unitary patent protection in all 25 participating member states, cutting cuts costs for EU firms and hence boosting their competitiveness. When the new system is up to speed, an EU patent may cost just €4,725, compared to an average of €36,000 needed today, says the European Commission. Here to read more.

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