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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

European Parliament votes for new patent package, sings its praises

The IPKat reproduces, below, the media release from the European Parliament on this afternoon's vote on the new EU unitary patent package.

Parliament   approves   EU   unitary   patent   rules

PLENARY SESSION Competition − 11-12-2012 - 13:00
EU inventors will soon be able to get a unitary patent at last. After over 30 years of talks, a new regime will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan [This is not true: EU patents do not compete with patents in other countries any more than European rules on urban traffic control compete with US, Japanese or Chinese rules]. MEPs cut costs for small firms and tailored the regime to their needs [even if it means small companies having to litigate a single contested patent through the courts of three different countries: see Lord Justice Kitchin's critique here] , in a compromise deal with the Council endorsed by Parliament on Tuesday,

In three separate voting sessions, MEPs approved the so-called "EU patent package" (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court).

"Intellectual property must not stop at borders. The path towards the introduction of the EU patent was long and troubled, but ultimately it has been worth the effort", said Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE), the lead MEP on the regulation setting up a unitary patent protection system [and a career politician who has shown neither sensitivity nor understanding towards the patent system or its many users], "Today's vote is good news for EU economy and especially for European small and medium enterprises (SMEs)", he added.
The current European patent regime "is effectively a tax on innovation" said Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT), who led talks on the regime for translating EU patents. "Specific measures for SMEs to fully reimburse translation costs and ensure extra legal protection in the event of counterfeiting" were introduced on Parliament demand, he added.

Legal Affairs Committee Chair Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), who led on the international agreement setting up a unified patent court, said: "People in China are telling us that we cannot have a single market without a unitary patent" [Is there any other message from China that the European Parliament would like to pass on, while they're about it?]. With the new rules "a lot of obstacles for SMEs will be overcome", he added.

Cheaper and more effective protection

The new patent will be cheaper and more effective than current systems in protecting the inventions of individuals and firms. The new regime will provide automatic unitary patent protection in all 25 participating member states, cutting cuts costs for EU firms and hence boosting their competitiveness. When the new system is up to speed, an EU patent may cost just €4,725, compared to an average of €36,000 needed today, says the European Commission.

How to apply for the new patent?

Any inventor will be able to apply to the European Patent Organisation (EPO, a non-EU body) for an EU unitary patent valid in all 25 EU member states taking part. Patents will be made available in English, French and German. Applications will have to be made in English, German or French. If made in another language, they will have to be accompanied by a translation into one of these three languages.

How Parliament helped to reduce costs

Parliament ensured that translation costs will be fully reimbursed for EU-based small and medium-sized enterprises, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations .

It also ensured that renewal fees, which account for a large share of total costs, will be set at a level that takes account of the special needs of small firms, so that they can benefit fully from lower costs.

Entry into force

The international agreement creating a unified patent court will enter into force on 1 January 2014 or after thirteen contracting states ratify it, provided that UK, France and Germany are among them [No prizes are offered for suggestions as to where the next round of lobbying, campaigning, pleading and cajoling will be taking place]. The other two acts would apply from 1 January 2014, or from the date when the international agreement enters into force, whichever is the latest. Spain and Italy are currently outside the new regime, but could decide to join in at any time.

The Rapkay report was approved by 484 votes to 164 with 35 abstentions.

The Baldassarre resolution was approved by 481 votes to 152 with 49 abstentions.

The Lehne report was approved by 483 votes to 161, with 38 abstentions.
For further details on how the system will work, please see our Q&A 

Procedures:Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure) 1st reading (unitary patent),Consultation (language regime), non-legislative resolution (unified patent court)
Press conference: Tuesday, 11 December at 15:00
REF. : 20121210IPR04506

10 comments:

Mark Richardson said...

The unitary patent package was predictably a hot topic at last week's IP Summit in Brussels.

Forum shopping and maintenance fee levels were raised as major concerns (see our post here http://ipcopy.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/unitary-patent-unified-patent-court/) as was the lack of transparency in the preparation of the rules of procedure.

The message from the EU Commission and EPO however was it's not perfect but it'll do!

Anonymous said...

"Is there any other message from China that the European Parliament would like to pass on, while they're about it?"

Ouch. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

look, fact is, software patents are needed in europe to stop that uppity young generation with their interwhatsits and mobile things. right now, a european teen in their bedroom can write a program and release it under copyright, without even 3 or 4 honest years of pointless and economically catastrophic patent litigation. the unitary patent finally gives free rein to the epo to make a complete balls of the european tech industry.

Megan said...

While the patent offices don't "compete" for applicants, if the cost of obtaining a patent in one country or region is a lot higher, it may be dissuasive.

Anonymous said...

For those who wish to know, the adopted text is to be found here:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+20121211+SIT+DOC+WORD+V0//EN&language=EN

Page 67 onwards.

Julian said...

"Is there any other message from China that the European Parliament would like to pass on, while they're about it?"

Well, the Commission/Parliament appears to act more like a Politburo than a Western democracy so maybe more notice than the Euroelectorate would like has been taken?

Anonymous said...

One question which I have regarding the unitary patent is that of how is contributory infringement going to be handled for cross-border sales. At present, each country has a provision directed to infringement having a national element, see Section 60(2) Patents Act. How is this going to be extended to cover, say, sales from the UK to France where the patent owner is a UK company? I understand that UK law regarding infringement will apply but according to UK law there would be no infringement as the sale is outside of the UK and therefore the invention would not be put into effect in the UK.

Any thoughts on this one?

Anonymous said...

Am I correct in assuming that the agreed texts will now need to go before the UK Parliament's European Scrutiny Committee once again? Do we have a feel for how likely it is that the UK will ratify the agreement given the outstanding concerns?

Roberto Romandini said...

I make reference to the question of Anonymous related to the
“cross border” sales from UK to France of means relating to
an essential element of the invention protected by
an Unitary Patent
for putting the invention into effect in France.
The case you described it is
not a cross border sale for the law regulating the
indirect infringement of a Unitary Patent.
The Unitary Patents covers the whole territory of
the participating States
as a single entity,
to which the territorial borders of the member States do not
apply.
The sales from UK to France of essential means of the
inventions to put in use this invention in France does
amount therefore to an undirect infringement of the
Unitary Patent
according to Art. 14g UPC Draft Agreement.
Art. 14g UPC shall apply - pursuant to Art. 5a UPR - also
to European Patents with unitary effects.


Roberto Romandini,
LLM München,
IP Lawyer in Milan,
romandini@franzosi.com

Anonymous said...

Section 60(2) will no longer apply to EP(UK)s. It will be superseded by Art 14f of the Unitary Court Regulation. That makes it clear that the relevant territory is the complete list of countries in which the European Patent has effect.

Articles 5a and 10 of the Unitary Patent Protection regulation are misleading if read in isolation from the Unitary Court Regulation.

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