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EU to create streamlined European patent

Posted: 9th August 2011   In: Dispute Resolution, Corporate Commercial

There is to be a new Unitary Patent providing protection across 25 countries in the European Union.

The move is designed to help European firms protect themselves against the growing problem of copyright piracy.

One of the difficulties at the moment is that there is no single patent covering the whole of Europe. Firms have to apply for national permits in each individual country which can be expensive, time consuming and involve working with several different languages.

Alternatively, they can apply to the European Patent Office for a European Patent. This approach is only slightly better as European Patents are simply bundles of national patents which still have to be translated into each national language and litigated in each state.

The EU is now streamlining the system to create a European unitary patent that will provide protection in 25 countries.

Ministers have already agreed the technical details and the number of languages to be used in the new unitary patent. The details are complicated but what it amounts to is that it will be easier and cheaper to register patents with far fewer translations required than under the current system.

The saving to UK businesses is expected to be £20m a year in translations alone.

Ministers believe it will provide companies here with the same level of protection in their home market of Europe as competitors in the US, China and Japan enjoy in their home markets.

It’s estimated that the unitary patent could increase the UK national income by £2bn a year by 2020.

The new regulations are expected to be adopted later this year and the unitary patent could come into effect soon afterwards.

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, have been put off registering patents in the past because they’ve seen it as too difficult or too costly.

Hopefully, the changes will encourage them to think again because copyright infringement is a growing problem. Failure to protect your innovations could cost you millions of pounds in lost revenue.

Please contact us if you would like more information about patents and intellectual property.