In December, the European Union took important steps towards EU-wide patent protection, agreeing to several key elements of a common patent system. The action taken by the EU Council is seen as important progress in negotiations that had largely been stalled since 2004.
The EU Council reached an agreement in several areas, with the remainder to be negotiated in the coming months. The Council agreed to establish a single EU patent and agreed to create a new EU patent court system, which will reduce or eliminate the need for litigation in multiple national venues and bring more uniformity to the law. The Council also reached some agreement as to renewal fees for EU patents, distribution of patents, and Enhanced Partnership by Contracting States under the new patent system. The draft agreement is currently being examined by the European Court of Justice which must deliver an opinion on the compatibility of the draft agreement with the EC Treaty. The opinion is expected at the earliest by summer 2010.