Existing situation for patents in Europe
The current European patent system, particularly in terms of translation
requirements, is very expensive and complex. The EPO – an intergovernmental
body which includes 37 countries (EU 27 + 10 other European countries) –
examines applications for a patent and is responsible for granting a European
Patent if the relevant conditions are met. But for the granted patent to be
effective in a member state, the inventor then has to request validation at
national level. This implies translation and administrative costs.
Because of the costs involved, most of the inventors only patent their
invention in a very limited number of member states. A European Patent
validated for example in 13 countries costs as much as 20,000 euro (16,208
GBP), of which nearly 14,000 euro (11,346 GBP) arises from translations alone.
This makes a European Patent more than 10 times more expensive than an American
patent which costs about 1,850 euro (1,499 GBP).
Negotiations on the EU Patent
The Commission proposed a Regulation for a Community Patent in August 2000
(now referred to as the EU Patent under the Lisbon Treaty). In December 2009,
member states unanimously adopted conclusions on an enhanced patent system in
The agreement covered the main features both of a new patent court in Europe
and the future EU Patent, but excluding the translation arrangements. However,
member states agreed that the translations for the EU Patent would form part of
a separate Regulation.
The Commission has therefore presented this proposal concerning the
translation arrangements for the EU Patent which completes the necessary
On the new patent court, an opinion from the European Court of Justice on
the compatibility of the draft Agreement with the EU Treaties is awaited later
More information is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/patent/index_en.htm
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Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes