The European Union is readying a way to make the process of obtaining a patent simpler and less expensive, but it could also make it dangerously easy for litigants to block sales of their competitors' products across the region, according to a French advocacy group.
The European Parliament's legal affairs committee welcomed a new proposal in order to create an EU-wide patent system during a Monday night meeting in Strasbourg. A majority voted in favor of a compromise that finally creates "an EU patent, after over 30 years of attempts, to support EU innovation and growth," the European Parliament said in a news release on Tuesday.
The new compromise text now respects the European Court of Justice's power to ensure consistent application of EU legislation, seems to be compatible with EU law and upholds the Parliament's rights to be involved if there are changes in the patent rules, said Bernard Rapkay, the member of the committee of legal affairs who is responsible for the draft legislation.
It is a "suboptimal compromise," he said, but the best that could be done under the current circumstances.
Advocacy group April has been battling the Unitary Patent because it contends the law "would increase the dangers of software patents," said Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, patent advisor at April, in an email. An EU-wide patent system would open the door for EU-wide sales bans on smartphones for instance, whereas at the moment product bans related to patent infringement cases are granted on a country-by-country basis.
Sédrati-Dinet warned that some aspects of the compromise may still be found to be contrary to European law, but the European Parliament committee said that according to their experts the compromise is legal.
The Council is due to formally adopt the proposed compromise on 10 December, and the European Parliament may debate and vote on it during the same week in Strasbourg, the Parliament said. If the Parliament endorses the Council proposal, it will become law.
"Let's wait for this to happen, before opening the champagne", said Klaus-Heiner Lehne, committee chair and member of the negotiating team, according to the statement.