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Agreement on EU-Wide Patent Unlikely This Year, Poland Says

Agreement on the European Union’s first region-wide patent system is unlikely this year because of the “contentious issue” of where to locate the court, the Polish presidency of the EU said.

“Essentially the whole package is negotiated, it’s final,” Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Poland’s European-affairs minister, told reporters today in Brussels. “Nevertheless, due to the resistance to compromise of one or two member states, we will not decide this year on the seat of the court.”

Attempts to reach an agreement on an EU patent system since 2000 have faltered over language issues. The EU has 23 official languages and numerous compromise proposals have failed to satisfy political demands or risked increasing translation costs for companies.

While governments from all but two of the 27 EU nations have agreed on the basic structure of the patent system, discord remains “on all points” concerning the creation of a court, Pierre Delsaux, deputy director general in EU Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier’s department, said on Dec. 7.

“This is an issue where we have just hit the wall,” Dowgielewicz said today. “One or two member states are simply not prepared to make a compromise.”

In March, 25 EU nations agreed to move forward with a common patent system. Italy and Spain opted out of the plans because they objected to the language proposals. Italy, which now has a new government led by Prime Minister Mario Monti, is considering joining, according to Delsaux.

“It would be positive if Italy and Spain decide to join the European patent,” Dowgielewicz said, noting that the issue is not in the EU presidency’s hands. Poland’s six-month tenure at the helm of the EU ends at the end of December, when Denmark takes over the presidency.

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