EU to offer Paris victory in 40-year patent row

EU president Herman Van Rompuy will attempt to break a 40-year deadlock over a single European patent by offering Paris the seat of a new EU trademark court, a senior diplomatic source told AFP on Tuesday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 26 Jun 2012, 5:57 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:46 AM

European Union leaders are to tackle the thorny question of who gets the court at a two-day summit on Thursday, with rival bidders France, Britain and Germany awaiting a compromise proposal by Van Rompuy ahead of the summit, national diplomats said.

According to the first source, the plan will see Paris offered the seat of the court, with ‘other functions’ offered to London and Munich.

Both Paris and London told AFP earlier this month that neither would budge on their insistence that each offered the best location for the court.

The patent issue is seen as a critical element underpinning the EU’s growth agenda going forward, and Van Rompuy is keen to wrap up one of the oldest EU rows in Brussels at a summit where decisions on closer financial integration, eagerly awaited on markets, are to be pushed back to December at least.

Under the current system, companies and inventors big or small must acquire patents in individual European Union countries — a process that can cost up to 20,000 euros ($25,200), including 14,000 euros in translation fees.

In comparison, US applicants only spend around $1,850 to protect their work.

An agreement has been reached among 25 EU states to launch a unified patent using English, French and German as its official languages. Italy and Spain objected, with Rome having lodged a formal complaint at the European Court of Justice.

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Maxime Verhagen, pulled The Hague out of the running this month, ‘in the interest of us all.’

In December 2011, 23 of the 25 states going forward backed Paris for the seat of the court.

However, asked if Britain would follow the Dutch example, a spokesman replied: ‘Absolutely not.’

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