By Max Clarke

Intellectual Property specialists Marks & Clerk comment in response to a formal proposal by the European Commission to create a single European patent.

Following the request by 12 EU member states last week for a single European patent, the European Commission has formally proposed unitary patent protection for these 12 member states. Spain and Italy have objected to the plans because of their concerns over the language regime of the proposed patent system — an issue which has been a sticking point for a number of years.

Michel Barnier, EU commissioner for Internal Market and Services, stated that the Commission intends to establish the system for enthusiastic member states, of which Britain is one, with the hope that all member states will eventually join.

Keith Hodkinson, Chairman at leading intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk International, comments on the announcement:

“The countries supporting the mini-European patent are the key markets in most industries. Having such a patent could also pave the way for reciprocal recognition of judgments and in effect create a central patent enforcement regime covering the twelve countries, which we would welcome, given the problems with the European Patent Litigation Agreement.

“If the scheme were to take off we think that a number of countries now waiting in the wings would jump in afterwards and there would be immense pressure on the remaining countries to participate. We don't want another decade-long wait for the European patent as we have had with the London Agreement on translations, so this may be a way of kick starting the whole thing in the face of inward looking resistance from a few countries.”