Absence of European patent costs Europe

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

This article is part of our special report Innovation and the Digital Economy.

While Germany, France and the UK argue over the seat of the main patent court, Europe is loosing €425,000 a day, writes Arnaldo Abruzzini from Eurochambres.

Arnaldo Abruzzini is the secretary-general of  Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The following was sent exclusively to EURACTIV.

"The decades-old quest for a common EU patent came close to being resolved by the European Council in December 2011, but a fresh dispute over the seat of the main patent Court – Paris, Munich or London – blocked a final agreement.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom evidently attach considerable importance to securing the seat of a handful of judges, no doubt anticipating that a larger number of lawyers and patent attorneys will follow them. 

But while politicians remain torn over this petty turf war, European businesses and the European economy are losing sizeable amounts of money: a staggering €31 million went up in smoke between the previous discussion on the European patent dossier of 10 December 2011 and the most recent (again unsuccessful) attempt by the 20 February Competitiveness Council to resolve the impasse.

Indeed, according to a Eurochambres calculation, each day lost in negotiations costs no less than €425,000 to European businesses. 

This sum is based only on the costs of validating patents across 27 different countries and does not take into account additional administrative burdens generated by the complexity of registering transfers, licences and other rights or the issue of multiple litigations.

This is clearly an unacceptable burden for European companies seeking to innovate and in so doing to revitalise Europe’s stagnating economy.

Eurochambres urges Germany, France and the United Kingdom to finalise the negotiations without any further delay.  Postponing a decision to the end of June, the ultimate deadline set at the January European Council, would cost the EU economy a further €54 million.

European leaders have recently talked a lot about the cost of 'non-Europe' – the non-European patent is a prime example and it is a cost that increasingly we cannot afford."

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