Correspondent's Choice

This story about EU patents was published by EurActiv on 9th November 2010.

The Belgian Presidency has proposed a new compromise text – seen by EurActiv – to break a long-standing deadlock over EU patents which could lead to an historic deal at an extraordinary Competitiveness Council next Wednesday (10 November).

The new proposal, which has been circulating among EU diplomats since 3 November, contains important steps forward compared to the previous compromise text tabled in October, which proved ineffective.

This triggered the convening of a special Competitiveness Council next Wednesday, which follows an official and an informal Council that have already been held during the Belgian Presidency and precedes another two meetings scheduled for November and December. On average only two Competitiveness Councils are held per semester.

If no solution is found at the upcoming meeting, ministers in charge of competitiveness matters will meet again on the patent issue on 26 November and 10 December.

An open-ended transitional period

The most relevant element seems to be the provision of no clear deadline for the end of a transitional period preceding the entry into force of a permanent regime, upon which English, French and German will become the three fully-fledged official languages for the EU patent.

During the transitional period, translations of EU patents should be available only in English and not in the other two official languages. This would reduce costs and make it easier for firms of other EU countries to benefit from the new system.

“As long as high quality machine translations are not available for EU patents, which are not granted in English, a translation into this language has to be provided by the applicant,” reads the Belgian proposal.

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