New patent system to stimulate EU innovation

Europe's half-century wait for a unified patent is almost over, writes Pavel Svoboda.

By Pavel Svoboda

27 Jan 2016

Before becoming Chair of Parliament's legal affairs committee, my interest in the unitary patent was purely academic, since I cut my professional teeth on copyright.

However, I watched with admiration as my predecessor as Chair, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, and two fellow rapporteurs fought to achieve what French Senator Henri Longchambon had first proposed way back in 1949.

With the failures of both the convention for the European patent for the common market of the 1970s and the 1989 agreement relating to Community patents, we had to wait until the Lisbon treaty before obtaining a legal basis for an EU patent, namely Art. 118(1) TFEU.


Of course there was - and still is - the European patent, which is really just a bundle of national patents.

Yet the shortcomings and the expense involved for inventors has, in my view, more than justified the effort involved in creating the new unified patent, which involved the use of the EU's enhanced cooperation mechanism, the creation of a unified patent court and quite considerable litigation, all of which involved Parliament's legal affairs committee.

The advantages of the new system are many. Firstly, there will be no need to validate unitary patents for each member state.

Secondly, costs should ultimately fall from €36,000 to €5000. Also, a unified patent court should provide better legal certainty and less risk of parallel proceedings. Unitary patent protection will also better protect inventions than the current system.

The new system will stimulate research, development and investment in innovation, which is good for Europe's growth. It will be advantageous for all inventors, particularly our small businesses.

Finally, the implementation of the unitary patent package will put Europe back on a par with the USA and China.


Read the most recent articles written by Pavel Svoboda - Committee guide: Brexit to bring fresh challenges for JURI