The road toward a unified European Union patent system has been defined by a series of fits and starts in recent years, but the process seems to be gaining critical momentum this month. According to EuropeanVoice, diplomats are now scheduled to endorse revised draft legislation in a December 10th meeting.
Although the language contained in the new document has garnered informal approval from the majority of member states, there are still several potential hurdles to clear. One of the initial points of contention was diminished role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the majority of unitary patent procedures would be channeled through a central court in Paris and two satellite bureaus in London and Munich. However, the latest discussions have assuaged fears that this proposed patent management framework could be in breach of Parliamentary code.
"The patent court shall be subject to the same obligations as the national courts," Michel Barnier, the European internal market commissioner, told reporters.
Nevertheless, some industry voices are suggesting that a simpler European patent system could make it "dangerously easy" for competitors to block the sale of one another's products. According to IDG News, bans are currently only enforced on a country-by-country basis. However, the prospect of stalling a rival's efforts across an entire continental bloc could trigger a spike in infringement claims.