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Friday, July 06, 2012

Credit where its due: EU Patent office is a good deal for British and EU businesses

The creation of an EU patent office, somewhat overshadowed by the latest twist on the eurozone crisis rollercoaster, was one positive piece of news to emerge from the recent EU summit. As we have noted previously, this is not before time.

It has taken ages to agree a patent and it has now finally passed through the European Parliament via the use of the novel ‘enhanced cooperation procedure’ in order to overcome the objections of Spain and Italy, who are upset that not all EU languages are to be used (something that would have lumped a higher cost on users).

If they manage to sort out the outstanding issues (which unfortunately is a big if) for the first time a British inventor will only need to register a patent once to protect their work throughout the EU. If done right this should reduce costs and increase protection for the UK’s important knowledge based scientific and creative industries. In other words, good news for UK business. But as well as being good for UK and EU business, this is also interesting as it breaks two EU taboos:
  • Firstly it's another example of a 'two speed' EU, (with the UK in the fast lane) implicitly acknowledging once again that the one size fits all EU Commission dogma no longer work as overarching basis for European cooperation.
  • Secondly, if David Cameron’s statement is correct, it will exclude the costly involvement of the European Court of Justice, something two UK Parliamentary reports here, and here concluded would increase cost and give jurisdiction to a court with no expertise. 
We have long been a critic of the way the ECJ works so an acceptance that it cannot be the final arbiter of everything is good news and sets an important principle. Unfortunately, this is not a done deal yet. Unsurprisingly, the ECJ has already ruled that it must have jurisdiction, in a move that reflects poorly on the Luxembourg court.

Still credit to David Cameron and other EU leaders for taking a positive step to boost innovation and business growth. Sometimes "more Europe" can help.


Rik said...

Good news indeed. This is were imho the EU should be all about in the first place. Make doing business easier.
IPR are simply a cornerstone of modern business and likely are to become even more important.
On the other hand it is a bit weird that this issue is still not properly solved while things like wolves in Sweden and buffalos in Poland and Belgium-Dutch border swamps are.
Fully agree you need clear (preferably uniform) court procedures for this and a specialised Court dealing with it.
There are a lot of people around who have the knowledge and often massive interests are at stake, no need for (legal) amateurs.

As you also indicate possibly an idea for a new set up of the EU. A free market (likely combined with a Customs union as that makes moving stuff around so much easier and similar standards as far as necessary to move goods from country A to country B without having to do the work twice and file lots of paperwork).
For the rest countries can sign up if they want or not if they donot want.

Would make the EU and Co also more acceptabele with both business and normal human beings. Business should simply get less red tape and the man in the street do not have to read in the papers that some vague human rights treaty requires his own country to change rules that are nearly fundamental by themselves at least the general population sees it that way.

Anonymous said...

This is only good news for the inherently -- though covertly --pro-EUSSR OpenEurope types.

The UK should be divesting itself of illegal and illegitimate common EUSSR/UK law, not creating it.

Rik said...

This is imho one of the few pieces of legislation that will benefit the UK even if it would leave the EU. The easier it is for business in R&D strong countries like the UK to file a patent or get protection for another IPR the better it is. Less red tape and better IPR protection.
Would be even better imho if it would be possible to do it on a worldwide say WTO scale. The bigger the area the lower the costs and the less red tape and the better the protection.