EU ministers secure a political deal on the Community patent: a 7-year transition period for national courts and a solution to the language problem.
After a thirty-year stand-off over viability and financing of a Community Patent, the EU Competitiveness Council finally capped the debate by subscribing to the key suggestions made by the Greek Presidency's compromise paper on the issue. Internal Market Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, seemed relieved the agreement had progressed before the begin of the Union's Spring Summit on 21 March 2003 (see
Under the current system, a patent valid in 8 Member States costs far more than filing an application in the US or Japan. The new procedure will halve these costs, and once the patent is issued, it will be valid in all Member States. According to the deal, an EU patent court will be established in Luxembourg, after 2010. National courts will continue to legislate in the interim. Companies will have to pay for the translation of the first three pages of the patent document in all EU languages, the rest can be filed in English, French or German.
Trade organisations, such asEurochambresandUNICEwelcomed the decision as a positive move under the Lisbon Procedure, but stressed that costs needed to come down even further to ensure true world market competitiveness.