Munich, 6 October 2011 -- The President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, met with European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, at the EPO headquarters in Munich today to discuss the planned introduction of a unitary patent aimed at improving the European patent system to better serve the needs of European industry. They also discussed progress on the automatic translation system for patents, which is currently being developed in the EPO.
The visit by the EU delegation also included two Members of the European Parliament, Eva Lichtenberger and Cecilia Wikström.
"The creation of a unitary patent and a centralised, specialised European patent court is a decisive step forward to securing Europe's position in the global race for innovation," said EPO President Battistelli. "Creating a simpler and more accessible patent system will enable European businesses to operate on a par with firms in competing markets such as the US and Japan, which already enjoy unitary patent protection covering their territory and operate in a single language, under a single court jurisdiction," he said.
"Facilitating access to patent protection is vital for strengthening the competitiveness of European enterprises on the global marketplace. The unitary patent will make the existing European system more affordable and more attractive for innovating businesses, especially for research institutes and SMEs," said Commissioner Barnier. "Its objective is to stimulate research and development in technology in order to improve Europe's capacity to innovate, and help boost economic growth in the EU. That is why the introduction of the unitary patent is also a top priority of the Single Market Act."
The unitary patent will be granted by the EPO under the same procedure, criteria and rules for examining patentability as the existing European patent, all of which are laid out in the European Patent Convention (EPC). Its advantage will lie in the post-grant phase, when the patent will be given unitary protection effect throughout the territory of the EU member states participating in the unitary patent scheme. The unitary patent is thus expected to simplify procedures and lower the costs for applicants by up to 70%.
The EPO will continue to provide its expertise and work in close collaboration with the EU institutions in order to facilitate the implementation of this important project for the European economy.
About the European Patent Office
The EPO provides a central one-stop service to innovators from around the world. It enables them to obtain patent protection in up to 40 European states through a uniform procedure requiring just one application in one of the three procedural languages of the Office, which are English, French and German. The EPO is one of the largest European public service institutions, employing 7 000 staff of more than 30 different nationalities in Munich, The Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels. It is the executive arm of the European Patent Organisation, and is entirely self-financed with an annual budget of EUR 1.6 billion.
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