Legal Updates

Can small businesses live with the proposed EU Patent?

The wrangling over the new Community Patent continues. The Council of Ministers have delayed the vote for the new Community Patent until later this year - calling into question whether the new patent has lost its way.

A harmonised community patent system was first discussed in 1997 and, 7 years on, we are still no closer to filing a Community Patent.

The delay stems from the debate within the Community on what can and cannot be considered a patent in Europe. The arguments for a Community wide patent are plausible. It would allow individuals and companies to apply for a single patent that would be valid across Europe. However, the old barrier to harmonisation still exists - namely language. The need to translate into each member state languages would increase costs dramatically.

This will hit hardest the smaller companies although some multi-nationals have expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposals. The possibility of even higher costs for obtaining a patent has worried small businesses immensely. They argue that the proposed Community patent would be heavily in favour of the large multi-national who will have the dedicated resources and deep pockets to cope with the increased costs. The continued uncertainty will not give the new patent a firm foundation.

Email: Dr Rosanna Cooper

© RT COOPERS, 2004. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.



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