Community patent

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The EU patent or European Union patent, formerly known as the Community patent, European Community Patent, or EC patent [1] and sometimes abbreviated as COMPAT,[2] is a patent law measure being debated within the European Union, which would allow individuals and companies to obtain a unitary patent throughout the European Union.

The EU patent should not be confused with European patents which are granted under the European Patent Convention. European patents, once granted, become a bundle of nationally enforceable patents, in the designated states. This can be expensive for both patentees and third parties in that enforcement must be carried out through national courts in individual countries, and revocation cannot be accomplished centrally once the nine-month opposition period has expired. The EU patent is intended to solve these problems, and also to provide a patent right that is consistent across Europe, thus fulfilling one of the key principles of the Internal Market in that the same market conditions should exist wherever in Europe trade is carried out - different patent rights in different countries presents a distortion of this principle.

In view of the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the community patent,[3] other legal agreements have been proposed outside the European Union legal framework to reduce the cost of translation (of patents when granted) and litigation, namely the London Agreement, which entered into force on May 1, 2008—and which has reduced the number of countries requiring translation of European patents granted nowadays under the European Patent Convention, and the corresponding costs to obtain a European patent[4]— and the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), which is as of 2010 only a proposal.


1970s-1980s : Community Patent Convention

Work on a Community patent started in the 1970s, but the resulting Community Patent Convention (CPC) was a failure.

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