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MEPs Vote To Delay Decision On EPLA Accession

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

16 October 2006


MEPs last Thursday adopted a resolution on the future of European patents.

They voted by 494 votes in favour, 109 against and 18 abstentions to postpone any decision on whether to approve the Community accession to the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), and called for "significant improvements" to the text.

During the debate on the matter held in Strasbourg in late September, Internal Market Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy advocated the ratification of the Agreement, arguing that it would make the European patent system more effective.

With the Community Patent dossier blocked in the Council for lack of agreement over the language regime, the Commission had put forward the proposal of acceding to the EPLA. The EPLA would introduce a European Patent Court with jurisdiction to deal with infringement concerning European patents. The EC accession to the agreement would therefore allow the Court to rule over patents in all EU Member States.

The majority of the MEPs did not reject the idea of acceding EPLA outright, but stressed their reservations over the present form of the draft text. They revealed that they were particularly concerned about the lack of democratic control over the procedures to grant a patent.

To counter these concerns, MEPs asked for significant revision of the provisions of the Agreement, with regard to democratic control, judicial independence and litigation costs. Moreover, MEPs asked the EP Legal Service to give its advice on the possible overlap between the EPLA and the acquis communautaire.

MEPs agreed that the best way to improve patent protection in the EU is to have a Community Patent, but acknowledged that it is unlikely that the proposal will be approved in the near future.


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