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MEMO/02/255

Brussels, 15th November 2002

Results of Competitiveness Council, Brussels,14th November 2002 Community Patent

The Council held a further discussion on the main outlines of the future jurisdictional system for the proposed Community Patent (see MEMO/01/451, IP/00/714 and MEMO/00/41). The Community Patent would give inventors the option of obtaining a single patent legally valid throughout the European Union.

The Council had already reached a working arrangement on the basis for compromise on other aspects such as languages, cost and the central role of Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO established under the 1972 European Patent Convention) (see MEMO/0/99).

The Council failed to agree draft conclusions suggested by the Danish Presidency focussing on the jurisdictional arrangements. Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein underlined that the Commission cannot accept that the proposed central and specialised EU jurisdiction should be watered down. This is because the Commission is determined that companies using the Community Patent should not have to run the risk of potential legal action before courts in each and every Member State which could adopt divergent interpretations of disputed patents.

After the meeting, Commissioner Bolkestein commented: "I am bitterly disappointed that a year after the deadline set by the Lisbon European Council, today's Council has still proved incapable of agreeing this crucially important initiative.

"Europe's companies are crying out for access to pan-European patent protection at reasonable cost with minimum red-tape and maximum legal certainty."

"The Lisbon Summit itself identified the Community Patent as a vital measure for boosting Europe's competitiveness by encouraging innovation. The failure to agree on the Community Patent undermines the credibility of the whole enterprise to make Europe the most competitive economy in the world by 2010."

"This Council has been renamed as the "Competitiveness Council" and yet when it comes to agreeing measures that would actually make a concrete contribution to improving competitiveness, it has failed to bite the bullet. Instead, there has been an awful lot of talk, much of it about process."

"Let me be absolutely clear. The Commission will not endorse a watered-down Community Patent that industry will not use. We cannot allow such a vital measure to be sacrificed on the altar of petty national interests. I will not agree to a Community Patent that would be a white elephant."

"Unless there is agreement by the Spring 2003 European Council, I will certainly have to consider very carefully the option of withdrawing the proposal."


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