|Dreaming of a unitary patent: |
but will enhanced cooperation
be a nightmare?
"Today the European Commission presented a proposal opening the way for "enhanced cooperation" to create unitary patent protection in the EU. Such unitary patent protection would allow those Member States that so desired to agree to establish a patent, valid in all participating countries, that could be obtained with a single application. ...[A]s the EU's Council of Ministers has not been able to agree unanimously on the EU patents' language requirements, the Commission has now tabled a proposal opening the way for "enhanced cooperation" to be authorised in this area, in accordance with the EU Treaties. ...The IPKat somehow thinks that, once the pressure for a real unitary patent is eased by "enhanced cooperation", the two-tier phase will become permanent pretty quickly and will be all the more difficult to shift. He would have preferred persisting with the usual negotiations, without the regular imposition of childish and arbitrary "last chance" deadlines, and keeping the single patent for all EU territory as the sole acceptable aim.
Today's proposal follows a request from 12 Member States (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom [No Belgium?]). It would be the second time that the "enhanced cooperation mechanism" were used (see IP/10/347) and would allow some Member States to move forward immediately, leaving the possibility to others to join at a later stage [Assuming that they should wish to do so; but governments of Member States that foster very little domestic innovative activity of their own and are merely a patch of ground over which foreign businesses exercise monopolies, may face little internal pressure to join up and may see some political benefits in staying out]. The proposed decision to authorise enhanced cooperation on unitary patent protection needs to be approved by the EU's Council of Ministers by qualified majority, after the consent of the European Parliament. The Commission will come forward in 2011 with detailed proposals for implementing enhanced cooperation for unitary patent protection, including translation requirements.
Following the negotiations led by the Belgian Presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers, the detailed proposal on translation requirements would build on the existing language regime of the EPO at competitive costs. The unitary patent would be examined and granted in one of the existing official languages of the EPO - English, French or German.
In order to facilitate access to a unitary patent, it should be made available to all applicants in the EU [and, the Kat believes, non-EU applicants too if they're from Paris Convention countries] on a non-discriminatory basis. Their inventions would be protected in all EU countries participating under the enhanced cooperation. Applicants in the EU whose language was not English, French or German would have the option to file applications in any other official language of the European Union [but not Welsh: that language has equal status with English for public life in Wales, where the Intellectual Property Office is based, but it is not an official language of the EU]. The costs for translation into one of the official languages of the EPO (to be chosen from English, French or German by the applicant when they file the application) would be eligible for compensation. ...
Under the EU Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, enhanced cooperation allows nine or more countries to move forward on in a particular area as a last resort if no agreement can be reached by the EU as a whole within a reasonable period. Other Member States can opt to join at any stage before or after enhanced cooperation has been launched.
More information here".