EU's New Initiative for Community Patent

The Community Patent is the subject of political debate once again after the Slovenian EU presidency said it would renew efforts to create an EU-wide patent system.

In a document based on last year's European Commission communication titled "Enhancing the patent system in Europe", the Slovenian EU Presidency states that it wishes to relaunch efforts towards a Community patent system.

The document, which is to be discussed in the Council on 12 March, focuses on two major areas of discussion, namely the translation requirements for patent claims and the distribution of revenues from annual renewal fees for Community patents in force.

The overall aim of the initiative is to arrive at an affordable and administratively simple Community patent regime which is easy for applicants - and SMEs in particular - to use.

The paper examines two possible solutions for the translation of patent claims, the so-called "flexible" Community patent (which gains its flexibility from a limitation on the number of translations to be submitted by the patentee), and a system involving a central translation service based on automated translation into all languages of the Community.

It proposes that 50% of renewal fees go to the EPO as the granting authority for Community patents, while the other half is allocated to the EU states on the basis of a special distribution key decided by a dedicated Select Committee.

This key would provide member states that facilitate translations (e.g. by dispensing with the requirement to have the claims translated) or help to establish automated translation services with a special premium.

According to the document, this distribution should support the stimulation and promotion of innovation and "be balanced towards Member States which currently have lowest levels of (patent) validations".