The Competitiveness Council gave the green light for a group of 25 Member States on its 10 March 2011 session, to create a unitary patent system in form of a so-called enhanced cooperation. It will be easier and cheaper for the registration of patents; and it will be an incentive for innovation and will enhance competitiveness of European enterprises, said Minister of State, Zoltán Cséfalvay, on behalf of the Hungarian Presidency.
All conditions are met for Member States to step forward in the issue of a unitary patent, which has been unresolved for nearly half a century, Zoltán Cséfalvay, Minister of State for economic strategy of the Ministry of National Economy, said at the meeting of the Competitiveness Council on 10 March 2011. Special point on the agenda was the approval of the enhanced cooperation that aimed to create a unitary European patent system, with the participation of 25 Member States. The Hungarian Presidency is convinced that the decision will benefit all 500 million European citizens; and the whole European business sector, irrespective of their nationality.
The Council, by applying the relevant provisions of the Treaties, authorised a group of 25 Member States to establish an enhanced cooperation, between themselves, in the area of unitary patent protection. A significant majority of Member States were determined to go ahead and not to lose any more time. The legal services of all three EU Institutions have found the legal pre-conditions for launching an enhanced cooperation in this field, were fulfilled. The European Parliament gave its consent to proceed with the enhanced cooperation with a clear majority, on 15 February. The Hungarian Presidency spared no effort to seize the opportunity, and worked to achieve an agreement on the new unitary patent system.
Minister of State, chairing the Council meeting, Zoltán Cséfalvay stressed, in an ideal case all Member States would participate in this important project; and this would remain a long- term goal of the Hungarian Presidency. However, the Minister of State added, the Presidency hadto seize the opportunity to move forward after almost 50 years of failure.Maintaining the status quo – a fragmented, difficult and expensive, legally uncertain patent system - is not an option. The Presidency believes it is of extraordinary importance that the enhanced cooperation remainsopen for the non-participating member states to join any time they consider it appropriate.
Now, the Hungarian Presidency must fulfill the enhanced cooperation with content – which will involve the drawing up of detailed rules concerning unitary patents, including the language regime. Hungary will do its best to keep the momentum, and expects the Commission to submit the relevant legislative proposals soon for the Council to be able to continue its work, the Minister of State said.
Raising the innovation capacity
The direct costs of a fragmented patent system in Europe have been well known for a long time. The lack of a unitary patent protection, incurs a loss of 700 to 800 million euros annually, for the business sector. However, the unseen and indirect costs could even be much higher, in the form of lost innovative capacity. Granted, the fragmented patent system is surely not the only cause of lower EU innovation levels. However, a higher quality, more simpler, less costly, and more business friendly patent system, would be expected to induce further investment into Reseach and Development (R&D), and therefore, raise our innovation capacity, Mr Cséfalvay underlined in an exclusive interviewwith eu2011.hu.
Very extensive discussions were needed
“History has been made”, said Zoltán Cséfalvay at a joint press briefing held with Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, after the adoption of the Council decision authorising the launch of the enhanced cooperation. He stressed that “very extensive discussions were needed” to increase the number of participating Member States from 12 to 25.
In response to questions, both the Hungarian Minister of State and Commissioner Barnier made reference to the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) delivered on 8 March regarding the draft international treaty on establishing the European and Community patent court to resolve legal disputes. Mr Cséfalvay indicated that the opinion of the court required careful study, however, the legal experts of the EU institutions thought that the proposed unitary patent litigation system on the one hand, and the enhanced cooperation on the other, were two separate issues.
Commission Barnier emphasised that the Commission would examine and take into account, to the utmost extent, the opinion of the ECJ when developing proposed measures in the framework of the enhanced cooperation. He said, the Council had found a “legally stable, economically indispensable and politically acceptable” solution concerning the unitary patent regime.
Doorstep of Minister of State Zoltán Cséfalvay ahead of the meeting
The main issues of the meeting of the Competitiveness Council are the Proposal for a Council Decision authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of EU patent, the Raw Materials Initiative the relaunch of the single market and a better functioning single market for services.
Location: Justus Lipsius
Address: Belgium Brussels, Wetstraat, 175
The main issues of the meeting of the Council are:
- Proposal for a Council Decision authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection
- Contribution to the EU Semester, Annual Growth Survey - information from the Commission; exchange of views
- Raw Materials Initiative - adoption of council conclusions
- Services Directive: Communication "Towards a better functioning Single Market for services – building on the results of the mutual evaluation process of the Services Directive" - presentation by the Commission; adoption of council conclusions
- Single Market Act - Information from the Commission on the results of public consultation and exchange of views
- Interim evaluation of the 7th Research Framework Programme including the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) – adoption of council conclusions
- European Innovation Union flagship initiative-information from the Presidency
- Pilot Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing - adoption of council conclusions