Community Patent (Extracted from Results of the Competitiveness council)

March 5, 2003

Results of the Competitiveness Council of Ministers, Brussels, 3rd March 2003

The Council reached agreement on a "common political approach" concerning the proposed Community Patent (see MEMO/02/255 , MEMO/01/451 , IP/00/714 and MEMO/00/41 ). This "common political approach" includes the main outlines of the system of jurisdiction whereby a centralised Community Court would rule on disputes, the language regimes, costs, the role of national patent offices and the distribution of fees.

"Today's agreement marks a welcome demonstration that Europe means business, and lends credibility to Europe's efforts to become the most competitive economy in the world by 2010", commented Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein after the Council. "The Community Patent will give inventors the option of obtaining, with just one application, 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, on the basis of the current compromise, 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."

"I am pleased that the Council has today agreed, in accordance with the Commission's original proposal, that there should be a single, centralised Community Court to rule on disputes arising from Community Patents. This ensures that companies using the Community Patent would not have to run the risk of potential legal action before national courts in each and every Member State, with the legal uncertainty, inconvenience and cost that would have entailed."

The Council is now due to agree and adopt the text of the proposed Regulation on the Community Patent. In the meantime, the Commission is due to present proposals for Council Decisions to confer jurisdiction on the European Court of Justice to rule on issues arising from Community Patents and to establish a specialised Court to do so. For its part, the Council is due to propose to the European Patent Organisation (created by the 1973 Munich Convention) to convene a diplomatic conference to revise the Munich Convention so as to allow the European Patent Office in Munich to issue Community Patents. This revision of the Munich Convention would then have to be ratified by the EPO member countries.

DN: MEMO/03/47 Date: 04/03/2003

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