By Max Clarke

After some 60 years in the pipeline, a single, EU-wide patent system took a step closer to fruition today, following a series of landmark agreements at the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg.

The single patent will make it easier for intellectual property holders to register their innovations, whilst reducing overheads for those trading overseas.

“The creation of a single European patent and patent court is crucial for UK industry, said the UK’s intellectual property minister, Baroness Wilcox. “We support a European patent system which gives real benefits for business, consumers and the economy. It is vital to offer businesses the same access to patent protection in their home market of Europe, as competitors in the US, China and Japan enjoy in theirs.”

While the move will likely be a boost to the UK and other EU member states, companies in Asia and the US will not be included within the single patent system and will be disadvantaged by this, will potentially harmful effects on intercontinental trade.

“A unitary patent and court system will save businesses time and money whether they are patent holders or those seeking to challenge patents. The savings to UK business are likely to be around £20 million per year in translations costs alone.”

Agreement of these two regulations, one establishing the patent and one on the language regime for the patent, will radically reduce the cost of translating patents in Europe by up to 80 per cent. This will also allow any company or individual to protect their inventions through a single European patent valid in 25 countries.

A recent independent review of Intellectual Property and Growth by Professor Ian Hargreaves found that establishing a unitary patent would remove IP barriers between EU countries and could increase UK national income by over £2 billion a year by 2020.

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