Community Patent

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Patent law measure currently being debated in the European Union. At present a single application procedure, before the European Patent Office, can lead to a patent in all the EU member states. However, this requires the application to be translated into the national languages of each of the EU member states, which can be very costly. And once the patent is issued, it can be struck down in some member states but not in others, because their is no common court to consider the validity of patents issued by the European Patent Office. The Community Patent will solve these two problems. It provides that the patent application need be in only one language, either English, French or German, with the patent claims translated into the other two. However, the patent will not be enforceable against a person until they are provided with a copy of it in their own national language. The Community Patent will establish a court, with exclusive jurisdiction to invalidate issued patents: thus a Community Patent will either hold throughout the EU or not at all. This court will be attached to the present European Court of Justice and Court of First Instance, through use of provisions in the Nice Treaty.

There is widespread support for the Community Patent; the main difficulty is Spanish disagreement with the exclusion of Spanish from the languages for the patent application. Because of this dispute the proposal is currently stalled.