A committee of the European Parliament recently approved plans that may bring Europe one step closer to a unified patent system.
According to a recent report in the Register, companies and individuals looking to register their intellectual property often pay as much as 10 times more for a patent in the EU than in the U.S.
The higher cost of European patents is largely a result of the requirement that all patents be translated into the languages of every country in which intellectual property rights are sought.
The European Commission has previously tried - and failed - to create a unified European patent system. According to the report, the new proposal would create a single patent system that would operate in 12 EU countries - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.
The proposed system would allow a patent examined and granted in English, French or German to be accepted in all 12 countries. According to the report, other countries would be able to join the system at any time.
Effective government policy on intellectual property is widely viewed as an important mechanism for promoting innovation and driving economic growth. Doug Norman, president of the Intellectual Property Owners Association, recently told U.S. lawmakers that patent rights provide important incentives for investment in research and development.