Brussels, 07 March 2002
In a report to the European Parliament on 11 March, Spanish MEP and representative of the Parliament's Legal affairs committee, Ana Palacio Vallelersundi, will recommend approval of the Commission's proposals for a Community patent, with amendments.
The main issues which have thus far prevented the Council of Ministers reaching agreement on the proposal are the operational languages, the judicial system to be used and the role of national patent offices in relation to the European patent office (EPO).
On the language question, the Legal affairs committee endorsed Ms Palacio Vallelersundi's proposal that the language regime should follow the example of the Community trademark regulation, under which applications may be submitted in any of the Community's official languages. However, the applicant would also have to indicate a second language, the procedural language, from a choice of five: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The applicant would accept the use of this second language for the proceedings (including opposition, revocation or invalidity). If the application were filed in a language different to the above five, the EPO would arrange for it to be translated into the procedural language indicated by the applicant.
Concerning the judicial system, the committee suggests a number of major changes to the Commission's proposal. Whereas the Commission proposes that jurisdiction at both the first and the second instance should lie with a new Community intellectual property court, the committee would prefer first instance jurisdiction to be established at national level, using national courts with experience in patent litigation as Community patent courts, with rulings at second instance being given by the European Chamber for intellectual property.
The committee also calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that national patent offices continue to play an important role in the processing of the Community patent. In particular, MEPs stress that the EPO should be able to instruct the national offices to produce research reports on a limited number of patent applications, provided they meet the quality criteria previously agreed. A system of quality control should also be implemented, says the committee. This would be under the authority of the European Commission in collaboration with the EPO.