EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

Elgar European Law series

Catherine Seville

Intellectual property (IP) is a crucial contributor to economic growth and competitiveness within the EU. This book offers a compact and accessible account of EU intellectual property law and policy, covering copyright, patents, designs, trademarks and the enforcement of rights. The author also addresses aspects of the free movement of goods and services, competition law, customs measures and anti-counterfeiting efforts.

Chapter 3: Patents and Related Rights

Catherine Seville

Subjects: law - academic, european law, intellectual property law


3.1 INTRODUCTION If this chapter were to confine itself to Community patent law senso stricto, it would be very brief indeed. The ECJ recently observed that ‘as Community law now stands, there is none’.1 In spite of the importance which the Community attaches to patents, efforts (over decades) to create a Community patent have so far proved fruitless. Undeterred, the European Commission has recently set out a new vision for improving the patent system in Europe. Launching the Commission Communication, Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: Patents are a driving force for promoting innovation, growth and competitiveness, but the single market for patents is still incomplete. Our 2006 stakeholder consultation showed that the EU simply must deliver, in particular on the Community patent and sound litigation arrangements, because in today’s increasingly competitive global economy Europe cannot afford to lose ground in an area as crucial as patent policy.2 It is still far from certain that these endeavours will be successful. They will be discussed in detail later in the chapter. As things currently stand, the effect of Community law on patent law is minimal. The Biotechnology Directive does regulate one self-contained element of patent law: the patentability of biotechnological inventions. There are Regulations which govern the grant of supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products and for plant protection products. These offer a form of sui generis protection, which does not extend the life of the patent as such (although it has a similar effect).3 There is a...

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