Liberal Democrat MEPs have welcomed today's green light for a deal on a unitary European Patent as a huge boost to business.

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The European patent deal approved by the European Parliament is huge boost for UK business after 40 years of wrangling
The European Parliament at Strasbourg voted to accept a hard-fought compromise package which has taken nearly 40 years to negotiate. Two states, Spain and Italy, have declined to take part on the grounds that their languages are not included in the patent filing process.

The new law will reduce the costs of an EU wide patent by 80% with costs of translation no longer being met by inventors. Costs will fall to €2380 during a short transition period and then €680 after that.

West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion, Lib Dem Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, commented:

"This vote is a huge break-through for industries that depend on innovation for their competitiveness as so many do in the West Midlands. The agreement on a unitary patent will greatly reduce red tape and slash costs for businesses in Britain and Europe.

"Cutting back on unneccessary bureaucracy is a key priority for me and for the Liberal Democrat MEPs. At last we have an agreement on the table after 40 years of argument.

"It is estimated that the costs of patenting will fall by up to 80 per cent as a result, improving our competitive position in relation to American or Japanese companies where patents are much cheaper.

"The judicial aspect is complicated by the fact that two states have not joined this agreement. But the ultimate authority will rest with the European Court of Justice and legal opinion is that the growth of case-law will build confidence in the unitary system.

"This deal ought to be warmly welcomed across the political spectrum. I am surprised that British Green and UKIP MEPs have united in opposing it. Intellectual property rights need to be sorted out; talk to any business leader involved."


Editors' Note:

At present, patents have to be registered in each European country separately. In future, an applicant will now be able to register a unitary patent in any EU language and the request will be processed by the European Patent Office in English, French or German. Automatic translation services will be accessible free of charge in all EU languages in order to keep costs down for SMEs, universities, research organisations and ordinary citizens. The European Patent Court will be split in three locations with Paris as the administrative centre, Munich as the centre for mechanical engineering and London as the hub for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.