Issue 6| December 11, 2001
European "Community Patent" Proposal
Derailed Again

According to a recent report from Associated Press, European Union ministers have again failed to agree on the creation of a Pan-European "Community Patent" that would have provided less-expensive protection in all 15 member nations. Plans for getting the new system approved by the end of the year were reportedly set back when Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece insisted on their languages being integrated into the new system.

The idea of a Community Patent began in 1973 with the Munich Convention on the Grant of European Patents that created the European Patent Office. Currently, these "European Patents" are subject to the different national rules of each of the Member States. Under the Luxembourg Convention on Community Patents signed in 1989, a single Community Patent would have provided a common set of rights throughout all of the Member States. However, the Luxembourg Convention never received the necessary ratification of all Member States.

In order to overcome this procedural obstacle, the European Commission published several green papers leading to the Council Regulation on the Community Patent proposed in August 2000. The Commission's proposed regulation specifically noted the cost of translating patent documents into the ten working languages of the European Union as accounting for approximately 39% of the average EUR 30,000 (approximately $27,000) cost of obtaining a European Patent. Cost reduction would have been obtained by prosecuting and publishing the Community Patent in only one of the procedural languages of the European Patent Office, with a translation of the just the claims into the other two procedural languages.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, Bill Heinze, at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley. The information contained in this e-mail is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.


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