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Old 12-12-12, 06:30 AM   #1
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Post After decades of discussion, EU votes for unified patent system

The European Parliament voted today to create a unitary patent system and patent court, after discussing the idea for more than 30 years. The proposal, which passed on a 484-164 vote, may lower the cost of getting a European patent by as much as 80 percent. The unitary patent court will come online on January 1, 2014, or when at least thirteen member states ratify the proposal.

Much of the high cost of getting a European patent is due to translation costs. Under the new rules, writing the patent in English, German, or French will be enough to pass muster; they won't have to be translated into the local language of every country where they take effect.The language issue was a sticking point for Spain and Italy, which have said they would opt out of the new system because their languages weren't given the same prominence.

In the new system, getting a patent may cost as little as 4,725 Euros ($6,144), as opposed to the 36,000 euros ($46,829)needed today, according to the European Commission. In the US, the cost of getting patents varies by location, technology type, and law firm but can cost as much as $30,000.

Of course, more patents aren't always the best thing for innovation.Patents are already hard to decipher from the legalese they're written in in the US; it's an odd idea that businesses should be forced to avoid infringing patents in languages that they may not understand. And a spokesperson for a tech industry group that includes Google, Oracle, and IBM voiced reservations about the new system. 'While the new rules may reduce the cost of filing patents, our concern is how to appeal against bad patents,' he told the New York Times.

Unifying patent power in a single court isn't necessarily a good thing, either. The US has had a unified patent appeals court since 1982, and it has dramatically expanded the sphere of what technologies are patentable.

In 2007, a reportchallengingthe current system of country-by-country litigation was issued by the European Commission, the executive branch of European government. Evidently that report was taken to heart.

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