After four decades of negotiations, Europe made its most definitive attempt to establish a unified patent system to date with a signed proposal which will go into effect in early 2014. According to The Economist, 38 countries, including all 27 European Union members, have pledged support for a system that will automatically honor intellectual property rights across 25 nations, establish a new regulatory court and do away with linguistic barriers that so often compromised efficiency.
Legislators have estimated the cost of having a patent recognized in every EU country at nearly $47,000, with approximately $30,000 generated by translation services. Comparable IP protection would cost less than $2,500 in the United States. Under the new system, applications must be presented in either English, German or French.
While such widespread agreement is impressive at any level, Italy and Spain are notable absences on the list of signatories. According to Bloomberg, they are among the countries questioning the constitutionality of proposed changes - and the rights of other nations to move forward without their participation.
One potentially significant provision that is currently flying under the radar could be of particular interest to American firms. According to Bloomberg, U.S. entities charged with infringement would be tried through the court's central division, whereas EU-based companies will be subject to local and regional court jurisdictions - and perhaps lengthier appellate processes.