Brussels, 14 May 2004
What is the main difference between the compromise text of the Regulation before the Competitiveness Council and the Commission's original proposal?
The Presidency text of the Community patent regulation takes on board the common political approach agreed by the Council in March 2003, in particular the requirement that translations of the claims of the patent be filed in all Community languages for the patent to be valid (unless states renounce the requirement for their official languages). The Commission's original text foresaw that the patent be valid as granted by the European Patent Office in one of the three EPO languages (English, French and German), with translations of the claims in the other two languages published for information.
How will the Community patent relate to existing systems?
The Community patent (Compat) system will exist alongside patents for individual Member States available through the European Patent Office or national patent offices. Applicants will be able to choose what kind of patent they end up with for any particular invention, whether a unitary Community patent covering the whole of the EU, or individual patents for separate EU Member States.
Won't the Compat be compulsory for applicants to the EPO?
Not at all. The European patent application will automatically designate individual states as well as the EU, but the applicant can choose which designations to keep or remove. Any application which still has the EU designated at the time of grant will be a Community patent. If the EU is designated along with its Member States, the unitary EU designation will prevail and the patent will be a Community patent. But after grant the patent holder can still opt for the Community patent to be converted to patents for individual EU Member States under certain conditions.
Won't the Compat system destroy the existing European and national systems?
It will be for applicants to decide which route to patent protection suits them best. There will be different aspects which are advantageous in each case. If one or other route becomes less viable because it does not meet the needs of applicants, then stakeholders will need to decide what action to take.