Everyone loves an inventor. In Europe we have no small share of them, pushing the boundaries of knowledge in pure and applied sciences. They win the plaudits of peers too, as technologist Josef Bille did during the recent European Inventor Awards for his ground-breaking technology in laser eye surgery. But for decades they've waited for a single Europe-wide patent to protect their work, plodding expensively through every Member State to register an idea. Now, it's back to the drawing board after a landmark deal last month fell through. After 30 years we've got to this point. I think it's a sorry state of affairs. A unitary patent system is something we really need at this moment in time, in terms of economic growth, building our way out of the situation we are in. This gives us a huge step forward. This week MEPs are working through the consequences of the Council's decision to extract several articles, without consultation, from a text painstakingly agreed earlier. A patent is there to protect the patent holder. And when you take out the heart, namely the definition of what is worth protecting and what is not, then it's a law without content. I think the Council is not thinking right. It still has the old mentality that they are the bosses. Translation and administrative costs mean Europeans can face registration fees of up to 30,000 euros, compared to the 2,000 inventors pay in the US, blunting their competitive edge. We have many partners in the United States, Europe and also Asia. So, it is increasingly important to have patents so that we can transform innovation into commercial value. Many points have been agreed: co-hosting the new European Patent Court in Munich, Paris and London for example, that Spain and Italy won't be part of it. But there are still fine details to work through and inventors are hoping it won't take too long.
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