A comprehensive IP strategy for Europe

01 June 2011

On Monday 30 May 2011, the European Competitiveness Council discussed the Unitary Patent Protection project and the outcome represents one more positive step with the final adoption of the two regulations in sight. I am also very pleased that the European Commission has already launched a non-paper about a possible solution for the litigation system, addressing the legal difficulties raised by the ECJ in its opinion.

This debate follows the announcement last week from Commissioner Barnier concerning a comprehensive IPR strategy, integrating Unitary Patent Protection and the litigation system as first priorities. Thus, it seems that Europe is ready to move forward on the IP issues. Let me take this opportunity to salute the commitment of Commissioner Barnier, who ever since taking up his post has actively supported the resolution of the patent questions.

Indeed, who could have foreseen only one year ago that the EU member states would be so close to implementing these two major projects, which are essential to European competitiveness but politically so sensitive? The current situation is also the result of the continuous support since 2007 from the services dealing with IP rights in the Internal Market DG. Open minds and intense discussions with all the stakeholders, in particular the different users of the system, helped to build trust and avoid a repetition of the previous mistakes which led to the impasse in 2003.

For its part, as I have said publicly several times, the EPO is actively preparing itself for processing the first request for Unitary Patent Protection as soon as the decision is taken. Moreover, it will further strengthen relations between the EU and the EPO, which are already very close. Let me just recall that any country willing to join the EU must become a member of the EPO and accept the principles of the EPC. The EU Commission has observer status in the EPO Administrative Council. But in addition to these institutional links, bilateral co-operation has been ongoing in Europe and elsewhere for years.

The structures are in place, technically the proposals are ready. Now it is just about political will!

BenoƮt Battistelli

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