In our last entry about patents in Europe, we wondered when it would be possible to talk about a unique pan-European patent system.
That has already become a reality! European Parliament gave its approval to member states so that they could use the enhanced cooperation procedure in order to establish a unique patent system within the European Union.
The goal for European companies? To encourage and boost innovation and competitiveness, thereby making the patent registration procedure easier and reducing all the inherent costs (especially translation costs).
On March 10, 2011, 25 EU member states gave their green light for the creation of a unique pan-European patent system. Only Spain and Italy are standing their ground and squarely refusing to participate in this agreement. Despite this, the process is definitely moving now. Indeed, last April 13, 2010, European Commission presented two proposals for unitary patent protection. Now, any companies or any inventors will be able to protect their inventions within those signatory 25 member states. Patent requests can be registered in any language, but the EPO (European Patent Office) will continue to submit patents in one of the three official languages (English, French or German). During a transitory period of 12 years maximum, patents submitted in French or German will have to be translated into English, and those submitted in English will have to be translated in one of the 2 other official languages. These translations will be necessary until the machine translation system is totally workable and efficient.