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European governments end 39-year patent dispute

European governments end 39-year patent dispute

European Union governments may be accused of being slow in tackling the financial crisis, but those efforts move at lightning speed compared to their debates about the European Patent Office _ a process now coming to an end after nearly four decades.
Few EU projects have been so bedeviled by political disputes and national pride. But finally EU leaders announced Friday, without joy or fanfare, a deal to base the patent office in no fewer than three cities: Paris, London and Munich.
"Yes, it could have been done in a more simple way," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
But that wouldn't be the way off the EU, which often finds itself riven by national jealousies. The Patent Office solution resembles what happened with the European Parliament, which also ended up in three cities _ Strasbourg, France, Luxembourg and Brussels.
The European Patent Office's tortuous saga began in 1973.
Currently, there is no such thing as a Europe-wide patent. Patents are filed in individual EU nations, costing up to 20,000 euros ($25,200), two-thirds of which is for translating paperwork into a score of EU languages. And that's costly for businesses.
"This is 10 times more expensive than patent costs in the United States," said Rutte.
The new office creates what is called a unitary patent covering most EU countries.
Negotiations, lasting many years, to limit the number of patent filing languages led to the choice of three: English, French and German. That so upset Italy and Spain, which insisted their languages be included, that in the end they declined to participate in the single patent office.
In the end, European Council President President Herman van Rompuy ended the lengthy debate over where to locate the headquarters by selecting three cities: Paris for the main patent court, Munich handling administration and London dealing with medical and life sciences patents.


Updated : 2021-04-15 19:45 GMT+08:00