Commission plans to simplify IP with EU Community Patent Court

The creation of a Community Patent Court with EU jurisdiction has been formally proposed by the European Commission in its bid to harmonise and simplify EU intellectual property protection.

If ministers approve the idea, it could ultimately end the current system whereby national and European patents are challenged in national courts, which sometimes leads to contradictory judgments and legal confusion.

The Community Patent Court would only have jurisdiction over the proposed pan-EU Community Patents still being discussed by EU ministers, and not over the existing national and European patents awarded by the European Patent Office.

Until disputes over the rights of the Community Patent itself are resolved, EU internal market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said that the new court system would be “about as useful as a new pair of skis in the desert”. If progress is made, the new court would exercise the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) jurisdiction over Community Patents, with appeals being heard by a specialised chamber within the ECJ’s Court of First Instance. In exceptional cases, a final appeal could be made to the main ECJ.

The patent court would have seven judges, who would be appointed by the EU Council of Ministers. The new system, said the Commission, would be “less wasteful and costly” than existing procedures.