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19th January 2018
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Moves to develop a single EU-wide patent system began in 2003 but progress has been hampered by repeated linguistic, technical and legal difficulties.
The cost of filing and protecting patents in Europe is substantially higher than in the US and Japan, and businesses have consistently complained about the fragmented and inconsistent decisions handed down by European courts.
Companies often have to fight legal actions in several European countries at once and national courts regularly come to conflicting conclusions on identical cases. A single patent court will make litigation cheaper and more predictable.
In July, the Commission presented a proposal to end the deadlock on linguistic disputes.
The commissioner in charge of the dossier, Michel Barnier, proposed to maintain English, French and German as official languages for an EU patent, which means that everything would no longer need to be translated into all official EU languages.
Under this proposal, applicants would be able to file a patent in their own language, but would have to have it translated into one of the three official languages - the costs for which would be eligible for reimbursement.
But this has not gone down well with some members of the Community...
1st October 2010