Towards an EU patent


People have been talking about a single Europe-wide patent for more than 60 years, although political concerns always seem to get in the way. WIPR talks to four key stakeholders about what the future holds.

What are the problems with the current patent system in Europe that could be resolved by an EU patent?

Van Pottelsberghe: An EU patent would improve our innovation system in Europe and make the patent system more available to small firms and universities. Currently, once a patent is granted by the EPO (European Patent Office), it must be put in force in each desired national system—a fragmented, and hence ineffective, system. A European patent enforced in only six EU countries is five times more expensive than a US patent.

This is a significant issue, but is far from being the only problem. You must manage your portfolio at a country level and pay all the related additional costs. This means greater managerial complexity. Then, in case of parallel litigation, outcomes may vary across countries. Only large firms can afford to litigate across countries; the uncertainty is not attractive for entrepreneurs, academic spin-offs and even SMEs.

EU, unitary patent