Brussels, 12th March 2004
The Council failed to reach agreement on the proposed Regulation creating a Community Patent, despite the agreement on the broad outlines reached by the same Council in March 2003 (see MEMO/03/47 ). The main sticking point was how infringements of patents which might arise as a result of mistranslations should be treated. In the absence of agreement, the Presidency concluded that it would reflect on how to proceed further.
Speaking after the Council, Commissioner Bolkestein said "I am disappointed that more than two years after the deadline set by the Lisbon European Council, and a whole year after the Council agreed the main principles, today's Council has still proved incapable of agreeing this crucially important initiative. European industry desperately needs access to pan-European patent protection at reasonable cost with minimum red-tape and maximum legal certainty.
"The Lisbon Summit itself identified the Community Patent as a vital measure for boosting Europe's competitiveness by encouraging innovation. The failure to agree on the Community Patent I am afraid undermines the credibility of the whole enterprise to make Europe the most competitive economy in the world by 2010.
"It is a mystery to me how Ministers at the so-called "Competitiveness Council" can keep a straight face when they adopt conclusions for the Spring European Council on making Europe more competitive and yet in the next breath backtrack on the political agreement already reached on the main principles of the Community Patent in March of last year. I must stress that this is despite the very courageous and determined efforts by the Tánaiste Mary Harney to broker a compromise.
"I can only hope that one day the vested, protectionist interests that stand in the way of agreement on this vital measure will be sidelined by the over-riding importance and interests of European manufacturing industry and Europe's competitiveness. That day has not yet come."