After over 30 years of attempts, the European Union is close to reaching a compromise on a pan-European patent. Well, sort of. The current unified patent proposal covers 25 of 27 member states, since Spain and Italy are not participating.
The working group of the Council of the European Union agreed on the patent proposal on 19 November, and it will become law if the European Parliament endorses the proposal, reports Intellectual Property Watch. The patent proposal could accelerate the spreading of innovation in the European Union by ending the hassle and expense of applying for several patents in the region.
According to Intellectual Property Watch, the cost to apply for full patent protection in Europe is currently €36,157. If the unitary patent is approved, the cost to apply will be €6,425 during the 12-year transition period, and then €4,725.
The proposal consists of two laws creating the unitary patent and a language regime for the patent, as well as an international agreement that creates a unitary patent court, which will be headquartered in Paris, according to Intellectual Property Watch.
The pan-European patent plan has overcome several significant roadblocks. The EU Court of Justice issued an opinion that the proposal was incompatible with EU law. Since then, the proposal has been revised and is compatible with EU law, according to the European Parliament. But some still doubt the legality of the law. April, an advocacy group for free software, is one of the most outspoken opponents. The group maintains that the revised law may still not be compatible with EU law and that software should not be subject to patenting laws, according to an article on PC World. Despite these hurdles, it seems likely that the European Parliament will approve the regulations in December 2012.Camilla Andersson