BRUSSELS (AP) — BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union approved a new common patent system on Tuesday designed to cut red tape and streamline patent procedures across much of Europe.
The European Parliament concluded the drawn-out decision-making process, backing a cluster of packages by a wide majority to end nearly four decades of fighting and negotiating over the issue.
Currently, patents are filed in individual EU nations, and ending the convoluted procedure is seen as key to reduce costs and boost innovation with cheaper patents.
"This is an historic agreement because it has taken us many decades to get here," said EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier.
On Tuesday, 25 of the EU's 27 members approved the new patent system on. But a majority of the member countries' parliaments — including Britain, France and Germany — must approve the plan for it to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2014.
Italy and Spain wanted to derail the decision right up to the last minute when they filed actions with the EU's highest court, but the advocate general told the judges on Tuesday his advice was to dismiss their pleas. The full court often follows such advice.
In a typical battle between national pride and the common objectives, the two nations insisted their languages were being discriminated against since requests at the future European Patent Office will be processed in English, German or French.
"I hope that Spain and Italy will join this new regime as soon as possible," said Barnier.
Before that, the 27 member nations had argued about where the headquarters of the patent operation should be located and finally devised an intricate system in which three cities — Paris, London and Munich — would share the spoils.