Patent attorneys have been talking about a single EU patent for 40 years. But as Annelise Holme explains, political interests are threatening progress.
In March 2011, 25 out of the 27 EU member states (excluding Spain and Italy) finally agreed to enhanced cooperation in order to resolve the language regime and move towards the creation of a unified patent protection system.
The idea is to introduce a unitary patent that will coexist with the current European patent system and the national patent systems of the EU member countries. The European Patent Office (EPO), which already grants European patents, will also be granting EU patents. Accordingly, the unitary patent is to be issued under the rules and procedures laid down in the European Patent Convention (EPC).
As is the case today, the specification will be in one of the three official languages (English, French and German) and the claims will be translated into the other two official languages (eg, the specification into English and the claims into French and German).
Unitary Patent, delays