Monday, December 7, 2009

European Union Moves Towards Common Patent System

As persons familiar with international intellectual property (IP) law know, the general rule is that protection for intellectual property is territorial.  As a result, if an IP owner is operating internationally, it is likely that they will need to file for IP protection in each country in which they desire protection.  While some exceptions exist, the usual requirement of multiple filings can be quite time consuming and costly and can even jeopardize protection if the owner does not file quickly enough in each place.

On Friday, the European Union (EU) took an important step toward EU-wide patent protection.  The EU's industry ministers agreed to set up a single EU patent and agreed to create a new EU patent court system, which will reduce or eliminate the need for litigation in multiple national venues and bring more uniformity to the law.  Some legal issues and other details remain to be worked out, but the agreement signals an important revitalisation of talks on an EU-wide patent system that have been stalled since 2004.


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