Monday, 23 April 2007

European Commission issues communication on “enhancing the patent system in Europe”

Emphasising that the current patent system in Europe is significantly more expensive than the US and Japanese systems, the European Commission has pledged a Community patent. The Commission argues that the EU's current system of patent litigation, with the risk of several patent litigation in various countries on the same patent issue carries unnecessary costs for all the parties involved and creates a lack of legal certainty.

The Commission's Communication published on 3 April 2006 is intended to allow the Council to launch deliberations on patent reforms, mainly on the Community patent and jurisdictional arrangements. Member States have different positions on patents – some support the draft European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) in the context of the European Patent Convention while others favour the establishment of a specific Community jurisdiction for patent litigation on European and Community patents based on the EC Treaty. In this context, the Commission believes that compromise can be reached on the basis of an integrated approach combining elements of both EPLA and a Community jurisdiction. According, to the European Commission the solution lies on “ the creation of a unified and specialised patent judiciary, with competence for litigation on European patents and future Community patents .”

So, the Commission is suggesting that the patent jurisdiction should consist of “ first instances chambers in each Member States as well as a fully centralised appeal court which would ensure uniformity of interpretation .” They would have competence for “ infringement and validity actions as well as for related claims such as damages .” Unsurprisingly, the European Court of Justice would be the final arbiter. So much for "enhancing" the patent system in Europe.

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