The Move Towards a Single EU Patent a Step Closer

“Enhanced Cooperation Procedure" Given Consent by European Parliament

In mid-February 2011, a proposal for the creation of a common patent system in the European Union (EU) by means of enhanced cooperation procedure was approved by the European Parliament by 471 votes to 160.
In fact, a single patent system was on and off the agenda of EU for decades, but unanimity has been unable to achieve. The deadlock has a lot to do with discrepancy over the language regime. Last December, twelve EU members raised the proposal again, but still met disapproval from Italy and Spain, which request that English alone, rather than English, French and German, be the official language for the unified system.
Under the EU Treaty in force since 2009, “enhanced co-operation procedure”may be used as a way to sidestep blocking members and resolve the stalemate by allowing nine or more members to move forward on in a particular area, leaving the option for others to join at any stage.
An EU-wide patent system is seen by the supporting members as a simpler and cheaper alternative for inventors to protect their patents and handle infringements throughout the EU. Under existing practice, national patents can coexist alongside a European patent issued by the European Patent Office, but the system is complex and expensive, with the cost of obtaining a patent in Europe ten times more than one in the United States. 
The decision authorising the enhanced cooperation is expected to be formally adopted on 9-10 March 2011.