As reported on many websites, the European Parliament voted to create a unitary patent system and patent court, after discussing the idea for more than 30 years.
The proposal, which passed on a 484-164 vote, may lower the cost of getting a European patent by as much as 80 percent.
The unitary patent court will come online on January 1, 2014, or when at least thirteen member states ratify the proposal.
Much of the high cost of getting a European patent is due to translation costs. Under the new rules, writing the patent in English, German, or French will be enough to pass muster; they won’t have to be translated into the local language of every country where they take effect.
The language issue was a sticking point for Spain and Italy, which have said they would opt out of the new system because their languages weren’t given the same prominence.
In the new system, getting a patent may cost as little as 4,725 Euros ($6,144), as opposed to the 36,000 euros ($46,829) needed today, according to the European Commission.
In the US, the cost of getting patents varies by location, technology type, and law firm.
However, not everything seems to be going smoothly. A spokesperson for a tech industry group that includes Google, Oracle, and IBM voiced reservations about the new system. “While the new rules may reduce the cost of filing patents, our concern is how to appeal against bad patents,” he told the New York Times.
Additionally, Germany may not ratify this particular agreement due various minor disputes. If Germany does not ratify the proposal, it will just be another dream that could not make it.
Eventually, I think that Spain and Italy would join if the proposal passes. Although, it seems, from many comments on the web, that they are not alone in finding that the English, German, French language requirement to be offensive. I do understand national pride, but my understanding is that these languages were chosen based on the size of the economies (they are the largest in the EU). Some commentators have pointed out that Spanish is more widely spoken that French. I think the move is totally political because the French government would not ratify the agreement without one of the languages being French.
In the end, if it is ratified, I believe it will be a good system for both Europeans and foreign patent filers.
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– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +