European patent: Bolkestein criticises EU ministers

The Internal Market Council has not been able to come to an agreement on a Community patent during its meeting on 26 November. In a first reaction Commissioner Bolkestein stated he was deeply disappointed.

The key outstanding issues remain the:

  • Role of national patent offices;
  • Language and translation arrangements;
  • Financial regime;
  • Jurisdictional arrangements;
  • Relationship between the Community Patent and the European Patent Convention.


Asked by EURACTIV, theUnion of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE)stated it welcomed the efforts by the Belgian Presidency to come to an agreement. It, however, still prefers no EU-wide patent than one as proposed by the Presidency (seeEURACTIV 20 November 2001).

EU Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkesteinstated "Ministers once again demonstrated their inflexibility and their inability to put long-term considerations to enhance the competitiveness of Europe before short-term considerations of national pride and protecting the 'status quo'. [..] The failure to agree today increases the risk that the whole Lisbon agenda to increase Europe's competitive position may be regarded as simply 'declaratory politics'."


The European Commission proposed a draft directive on the creation of an EU wide patent on 1 August 2000. Under the proposed system, companies and inventors would have the choice of either obtaining a single EU-wide patent that is valid throughout the EU or applying for a national patent via their national patent offices. The Community patent would co-exist with the national and current European patent systems. The high cost of patenting in Europe is often seen as one of the reasons why Europe is lagging behind the US and Japan in the development of the knowledge-based economy.


  • Belgian Presidency conference on community patents on 29 November 2001;
  • European Parliament plenary vote 10 December 2001;
  • Council will again try to come to an agreement on the issue during the Laeken summit.


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