The European parliament approved the unitary patent on Tuesday 11th. 40 years of discussions, disagreements, hopes. If all countries agreed with the idea of a unitary patent they did not agree on terms.

Finally, an agreement was found, but without Italy and Spain. As a consequence, the unitary patent provides protection in 25 countries. The unitary patent is really necessary to raise competitiveness of European companies as it is reducing costs. Today, the approximate cost of a patent filed for the 27 european countries is 32 000 € compared to 1 850 € for a patent filed in the United States.

European Parliament in Strasbourg (Image by Margaux Groine)


The main problem is the translation of these patents. Because many countries require a translation of patents in their official language and the cost of translation is very high. Indeed, within the 32 000 € required for filing a patent in 27 countries, the cost estimate for translation only is 23 000 €. With the unitary patent, it will possible to file a patent in any language with only the claims having to be translated in one of the three official languages (French, Deutsch or English). Ultimately a system of automatic translation will be implemented.

But many issues remain unresolved to this day, especially as the Council of Europe still has to choose the future headquarters of the European patent court. Detractors of the unitary patent say that there is a risk of privatization of ideas. Moreover, there are many doubts about the possibility of establishing this patent for 2014. Finally, adoption of the unitary patents will revival the problem of software patentability.

If it seems like really good news, it also looks like the unitary patent was approved in haste.
Aslo published on : Margaux Groine’s Blog (

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