The Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation released the following statement:

The Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton described the decision by the EU Competitiveness Council to authorise the use of the enhanced cooperation procedure for the creation of a single European patent as a major step forward.

Minister Bruton said: ‘this decision is a historic political breakthrough after over 50 years of negotiations. Ireland has long supported the proposed European Union patent as a way of encouraging competitiveness, innovation and reducing costs especially for small and medium sized firms. ‘It is imperative in the current global economic crisis that we as policy makers ensure that European Business is not hampered by the current fragmented system that is both expensive and complex.’

In the current system, each granted patent must be validated in each country in which protection is required. This has serious consequences for European competitiveness. For example, a European patent designated in 13 countries is about 10 times more expensive than a US Patent and 13 times more expensive than a Japanese patent, when processing and translation costs are taken into account.

The Minister added: ‘Our preference has always been for an EU patent to cover all Member States. I regret that this has not been possible however today’s proposal, under the Enhanced Cooperation procedure, will enable the twenty five Member States willing to participate to commence negotiations on provisions for unitary patent protection and associated simpler translation regime.’ Concluding Minister Bruton said: ‘The creation of a unitary patent title will ultimately improve access to patent protection and lower costs for businesses and entrepreneurs seeking cross border protection for patented inventions. These cost reductions would particularly benefit Irish start-ups firms and small businesses.’