Council fails to reach an agreement on EU Patent translation system

The Council on Competitiveness met on 10 November in extraordinary meeting with a single item on the agenda: the Proposal for a Council Regulation on the translation arrangements for the European Union patent. Although an intense debate was hold by delegations, no political agreement was reached at the meeting and the Presidency will now try to capitalise the momentum given by representatives of Member States.

Delegations from Member States debated over a compromise proposal on EU Patent translation arrangement put forward by Belgian presidency which aimed to take into account the different concerns expressed by EU delegations during previous discussions. This subject was last discussed by the Competitiveness Council on 11 October, on the basis of a previous compromise proposal.

In this occasion, and despite the efforts made and the flexibility shown by most delegations the required unanimity was not reached. As highlighted by Belgian Presidency at the end of the meeting, no stones were left unturned, “however, in spite of the progress made, we have fallen short of unanimity by a small margin”.

The importance of securing an EU patent system, as understood by the Council itself, is specially relevant in the current economic situation, where it is necessary to stimulate innovation and employment. Now new ways will have to be explored in order to secure the system and reach an agreement.

Draft proposal of EU Patent translation agreement

The draft regulation on EU Patent system is aimed at setting up translation arrangements for the EU patent that are cost-effective (by reducing costs to ensure accessibility to patent protection), simplified (by reducing administrative burden and complexity for the users) and that ensure legal certainty (by avoiding uncertainty caused by translations having legal effect). These objectives were at the core of Council conclusions on a "Enhanced patent system in Europe" adopted in December 2009, which informed Commission's proposal put forward 30 June 2010.

The draft regulation builds on the existing language regime of the European Patent Office (EPO). It proposes that EU patents, like all European patents, would be granted in one of the official languages of the EPO: English, French or German. The applicant would be free to choose between an EU patent and a "bundled" European patent.