The European Commission has proposed a process of ‘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.
Obtaining a patent in Europe currently costs ten times more than one in the US because of national validation and translation costs. This situation discourages research, development and innovation, and undermines Europe’s competitiveness. Commission proposals for a single EU patent have been under discussion for over a decade.
As 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.
Enhanced cooperation has been requested by 12 countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
It is hoped that over time other countries will join.