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MEPs greenlight EU patent
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MEPs greenlight EU patent

14.12.2012 - After decades of deadlock, Europe is finally set to get a new unified patent. This week the Competitiveness Council and MEPs adopted the draft law.

Provided the draft law will be signed by at least 13 EU member states, EU patents must be only translated into three languages cutting the cost drastically. Today, two thirds of the patent cost of €36,000 is translation cost. The new unitary patent is calculated to cost a maximum of only €6,425, with the costs of translation set to range from €680 to €2,380. However, this is still twice as expensive as an US patent.  “Today’s vote is good news for the EU economy and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” said MEP Bernhard Rapkay.

Italian MEP Raffaele Baldassarre, who had been leading negotiations on the new translation regime, described the current cost burden as “effectively a tax on innovation. We have to understand that there is a need out there to facilitate innovation in the EU."

Under the new scheme, patent applications will have to be made in either English, French or German – and will be made available in the same three languages. MEPs also voted to fully reimburse translation costs for EU-based SMEs, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations - something expected to benefit small high-tech firms in particular.Renewal fees, which are responsible for much of the overall cost of the current European system, will also be set at a level to help SMEs.

“Spain and Italy have so far opted out of the unitary patent package, but could join in the decision-making process at any time,” the Parliament says. “This procedure was used to break a deadlock, mainly due to language issues, that lasted over thirty yearsThe agreement is expected to be signed in February next year, and it will come into force on 1 January 2014 or when at least 13 member states including the UK, France and Germany have ratified it. Patents on plants have been excluded from the law, previously. The legislation still has to be formally adopted by the Council, but this will take place shortly.

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