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EU court rejects patent plan cornerstone19th of May 2011
The European Court of Justice has decided the proposed establishment of an EU patent tribunal is incompatible with EU rules, meaning this cornerstone of long-standing plans to create a unified European patent will have to be reviewed.
Moves to develop a single patent system for the EU began in 2003, but progress has been hampered by linguistic, technical and legal difficulties.
The cost of filing and protecting patents in Europe is substantially higher than in the US and Japan, and business organisations have consistently complained about the fragmented and inconsistent decisions handed down by courts.
Companies often have to fight legal actions in several European countries at once, and national courts regularly come to conflicting conclusions on identical cases. A single patent court would make litigation cheaper and more predictable.
But in a binding decision the top EU judges deemed the creation of a Community Patent Court as "not compatible with the provisions of European Union law".