March 13, 2008
Slovenia yesterday indicated that it will seek agreement on this thorny issue during its Presidency.
Industry wants a new, unitary Community patent to sit alongside the present national and European patent systems. The Commission’s Proposed Regulation of August 2000 was approved by Parliament and the EESC, but remains blocked in Council over the language issue.
Is it surprising that Europe lags behind in competitiveness and innovation when companies continue to pay patent filing costs several times higher than for the US because the Members States can’t agree on language? SMEs are particularly penalised.
The Commission proposes three procedural languages – English, French and German – with the patent being valid if issued in one of these languages and translated into the other two. In practice, English is the patent language. The sensitivity of this subject is understandable but, in the commercial field, commercial considerations should be paramount. Thus an increasing number of French MNCs use English as their working language.
If agreement cannot be reached, perhaps the enhanced cooperation procedure might be used, with English as the sole language, which is acceptable to many Member States. The threat of this alternative might just be the spur to achieve an EU accord.Author : Stanley Crossick