Community Patent (Extracted from Preparation of the Competitiveness Council)

March 3, 2003

Brussels, 28 th February 2003

The Council will seek to agree on the main outlines of the proposed Community Patent, including a system of jurisdiction whereby a Community Court would rule on disputes (see MEMO/02/255 , MEMO/01/451 , IP/00/714 and MEMO/00/41 ).

The Community Patent would give inventors the option of obtaining a single patent legally valid throughout the European Union at a fraction of the existing cost of doing so. At the moment, patent protection in just eight European countries costs some €50,000 around five times as much as in the US or Japan. The Community Patent, if agreed on the basis of the current compromise text, would halve these costs to some €25,000 for 25 Member States rather than just eight still more than the US or Japan but very much better than the current situation. The adoption of the Community Patent was identified as a top priority by the March 2000 Lisbon European Council because of its potential to boost innovation and competitiveness.

Mr Bolkestein will stress that this is "make or break time" and that the Commission may withdraw its proposal if agreement cannot be reached by the Spring European Council. The Commission is determined that companies using the Community Patent should not have to run the risk of potential legal action before national courts in each and every Member State. This could not only lead to divergent legal interpretations of disputed patents but also give rise to massive inconvenience and legal expenses for Community Patent holders. The Commission is determined to ensure that the Community Patent will be useful to business, offering both low costs and legal certainty.

The Council has already reached broad agreement last year on the basis for compromise on other aspects such as languages, cost and the central role of Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO established under the 1972 European Patent Convention) (see MEMO/02/99 ). The jurisdiction is the last and decisive piece of the puzzle.

Extracted from DN: MEMO/03/45 Date: 28/02/2003

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