Patents are key to unlocking Europe's knowledge economy

October 30, 2006

Brussels, October 2006

The president of the European Patent Office, Alain Pompidou, recently warned that for Europe to achieve its goal of having the most advanced knowledge-based economy by 2010, it must devote more attention to developing patents for its research results.

Mr Pompidou discussed the important role that patents on European research play in a knowledge economy at the annual EPO online services conference in Lisbon.

"If Europe really wants to become the worlds leading knowledge economy by 2010, the patent network urgently needs to be developed," he told more than 350 delegates from all over Europe meeting in the Portuguese capital.

He applauded the Commission's recent efforts for an improved "patent culture" under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), but noted that more needs to be done.

He referenced the recent public consultation conducted by the Commission as proof that researchers wanted more attention to be given to patent issues (see Headlines 26-09-2006), and said that ratification of the London Protocol on the translation of patent applications could be an immediate example of a step in the right direction. If ratified, the London Protocol is expected to reduce the cost of patents by 45 percent, or up to €3 000 per application according to some analyses.

"This could significantly reduce the financial burden on patentees," Mr Pompidou said.

In addition to the London Protocol, Mr Pompidou discussed the prospects of the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) as a way of harmonising patent laws across the EU and a way for European researchers to protect themselves in an increasingly competitive market.

Such measures would "significantly enhance legal security for patent owners and the public alike," according to Mr Pompidou. "Such a court is the obvious missing element in the present system."

For its part, Portugal has given priority to research developing technologies to access patents, such as online searchable patent databases.

The European Patent Organisation member states include: Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Switzerland; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Germany; Denmark; Estonia; Spain; Finland; France; United Kingdom; Hellenic Republic (Greece), Hungary; Ireland; Iceland; Italy; Liechtenstein; Lithuania, Luxembourg; Latvia, Monaco; Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Sweden; Slovenia; Slovakia and Turkey.

DG Research
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