European Union Patent Update

Authored by Ms. Camilla Rendal Nielsen of Zacco Denmark A/S

Latest news: Finally on the road towards an EU patent: Only Spain and Italy so far outside proposal to create a new EU-patent

After failing to reach an agreement on an EU patent in December particularly due to Spain’s persistent opposition to leaving out Spanish as one of the main languages, the EU has taken a leap towards implementing a unitary patent protection, in short the new EU patent, which will bring significant cost savings for pan- European protection.

All EU member states, except Italy and Spain, have indicated that they will sign up for a procedure allowing some Member States to proceed towards a new EU patent under a scheme called “enhanced co-operation”. The proposal was put forward by twelve Member States (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and this proposal, after approval by the European Parliament on February 15, is now moving through the EU Council and Commission.

According to the proposal, the new EU patent will be:

  • Optional to the users of the patent system and co-exist with national and European patents.
  • A specific category of a European Patent, granted by the European Patent Office, designating the Member States participating in enhanced co-operation on a unitary basis, just as specific countries are designated today.

The potential cost savings, if this proposal goes through, are immense. The common simplified translation arrangements would result in the following:

(a) Translation required of the claims only into the other 2 official EPO languages (English, French and German). [Further limited, purely informational, translations (without legal significance) may be required during a transitional period];

(b) No requirement to file any  translation whatsoever,  with national patent offices and no payment of publication fees;

(c) No need to pay for representation at national level.

The translation costs under the simplified translation arrangements of enhanced cooperation would amount to approximately EUR 680 per patent in that only the claims have to be available in English, French and German. The specification can be in any one of the three languages. The validation costs for the territories of the participating Member States would thus be correspond  to the minimal current cost of protection in Germany, France, UK and Luxembourg, that is, in the Member States which are parties to the London Agreement and have entirely dispensed with translation requirements.

Additional costs of validation would be incurred in Italy and Spain, presently the only two non-participating Member States.

The full proposal for the creation of unitary patent protection can be found below.


We will keep you updated as this proposal moves through the EU legislative bodies.

Zacco Denmark A/S: Camilla Rendal Nielsen, European Patent Attorney

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