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EU lawmakers agree on unitary patent regulations

Members of the European Parliament responsible for legal affairs have agreed on unitary patent proposals with the Polish Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.

The agreed EU patent package includes three proposals: one for the unitary patent itself, one for its language regime, and one for a unified patent court.

The proposed regulations remain close to the European Commission’s initial proposal, but MEPs have added provisions in particular to protect the interests of small businesses, the European Parliament said.

“The main provisions that the European Parliament delegation successfully pushed through concern strengthening SMEs’ interests, ensuring a good compromise on renewal fees and introducing a clear date for the entry into force of the new legislation, against Council reservations,” Bernhard Rapkay, a German MEP from the Socialists & Democrats group, said.

The agreement now has to be sealed by a vote in the European Parliament and the Council before the regulation can enter into force in 2014. The Legal Affairs Committee will vote on the agreement at its next meeting on 19 and 20 December.

The unitary patent aims to create a single patenting procedure throughout the EU that would be faster and cheaper than the existing procedure, in which inventors file patent applications in individual countries through the European Patent Office.

Spain and Italy have so far opted out of the patent proposal, but the other 25 EU countries have decided to go ahead without them to unblock the file after decades of disputes.