Leaders eye patent breakthrough at EU summit

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European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is poised to broker a deal over the stalled European patent at an EU summit starting tomorrow (28 June) in Brussels. EURACTIV Italy reports from Rome on the possible breakthrough.

Van Rompuy will propose Paris as the seat of the patent court, but with certain of the court’s functions devolved to London and Munich, according to EURACTIV Italy.

The three cities have been involved in an obstinate stand-off over which would win the court, as British, French and German lawyers and politicians fear that a new patent ‘hub’ would siphon work from the others.

The registration and defence of patents is intensive, involving lucrative legal work and specialist patent attorneys.

Danish diplomatic sources told EURACTIV.it that the compromise has been set out in a letter signed by Van Rompuy and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Agreement on the patent would enable Van Rompuy to claim success on a crucial single market issue, and enable the Danish presidency – which concludes at the end of the month – to deliver on one of its goals.

Enhanced co-operation

On 11 March 2011, ministers from 25 member states decided to go ahead with plans to introduce a common system for registering patents, without Spain and Italy, which opposed the proposed language regime.

The Italians and Spanish were afraid that such an approach would give an unfair advantage to companies based in France, Germany and the United Kingdom since French, German and English were the three official languages chosen for the regime.

The 25 agreed to use the so-called 'enhanced co-operation' mechanism, which allows a group of at least nine EU countries to adopt new common rules among themselves, in areas where an EU-wide agreement cannot be reached.

The issue is agreed on all points, except for the issue of the seat of the court.

  • 28-29 June: Heads of State and Government meet in Brussels for summit, patent deal to be discussed

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