One-Stop Shop for EU patents

Irish innovators received a significant boost today (Tuesday) when Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, along with Ministers from 23 other Member States, signed the Unified Patent Court Agreement in Brussels.

The agreement is the last part of a package of measures that will provide a one-stop shop for innovative enterprises to register and protect their patents in the European Union. Its creation will save Irish businesses seeking patent coverage in Europe significant amounts, with up to €6 million spent annually on patent translation costs alone. Across Europe, it is estimated that the new patent system will save business between E150-290m each year.
Minister Bruton was in Brussels along with Minster for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD chairing the first meeting of the European Competitiveness Council to take place during the Irish Presidency of the EU.

Minister Richard Bruton said: “The signing of the Unified Patent Court is a historic moment as it paves the way for the implementation of the patents package, which will give enterprises greater access to patent protection at European level, and make enforcement of patents more affordable.”

“It is also an important milestone in the continued development of the Single Market – a priority for the Irish Presidency. Indeed, achieving a unified patent litigation system was a major priority of the Single Market Act.”

He added, “When the full patents package is implemented, it will mean that European enterprises will, on the basis of a single application, be able to obtain a patent that has effect in the majority of Member States of the EU and have access to a common litigation system to process any actions for infringement or invalidation of that patent.”

Minister Sherlock commented “Today’s signing is particularly good news given last week’s CSO figures on business expenditure on R&D. The survey showed that enterprises across all business sectors spent some €1.9bn on research and development activities in Ireland in 2011, an increase on the €1.83bn spent in 2010. This is estimated to have risen to almost €2bn in 2012. The continuing development of Ireland as a location for the performance of world class R&D is crucial, as this will allow businesses to build a competitive advantage that will result in jobs and growth.”

Minister Bruton today chaired the Competitiveness Council meeting of EU Industry and Internal Market Ministers. In a first for the Council, Ministers discussed a report on the integration of the Single Market. This marks a notable increase in the Competitiveness Council’s role in monitoring and advising in this important area. Ministers also reviewed progress on implementing Single Market legislation and in driving new growth-enhancing measures.

During the Council, Ministers also debated a number of important issues including the European Commission’s “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan”, the State Aid Modernisation proposals and the Annual Growth Survey for 2013. Other issues of importance that were discussed included the Union Customs Code and the challenges facing the European steel industry.

Minister Bruton welcomed a European Commission report published today that shows Ireland is now the most prompt implementer of new EU Internal Market Directives. The Commission’s “Internal Market Scoreboard” gives Ireland a perfect 0.0% score, indicating that the country has transposed all due Directives on time. This is only the second time a Member State has achieved a perfect score.

Minister Richard Bruton said: “The priorities of the Irish Presidency are stability, jobs and growth. The areas that the Competitiveness Council discussed today, including the Single Market and entrepreneurship, will have a major impact on this agenda.”

“In the context of these discussions, I strongly welcome the European Commission’s new Internal Market Scoreboard report. It shows that the number of Member States transposing 99% of new Internal Market Directives increased from 16 to 23, clearly showing that Member States are giving a high regard to the timely transposition of these important instruments.”

Minister Bruton concluded: “We also debated the Annual Growth Survey for 2013 and the issues around ensuring that Member States align their budgetary and economic policies with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Europe 2020 strategy. It is important that there is this common understanding about the priorities for action at the national and EU level to assist sustainable growth and job creation.”