Unitary patent to be confidence boost to European business

Writing for The Parliamrnt magazine, Sajjad outline how the new unitary patent will help Europe's businesses to flourish

For far too long, Europe has lagged behind the USA and Japan in terms of innovation. Now China is hot on our heels. We simply didn't have the correct mechanisms to protect our pioneering, cutting-edge inventions and all too often found them developing their ideas in environments where large-scale protection was a given.

The creation of a unitary patent, which will provide protection across 26 EU countries, has been an aim of the EU for over 40 years. Unfortunately, it hasn't always appeared possible. Indeed, even today there are still narrow-minded naysayers within our Parliament.

However, I am very pleased that huge strides were made during the EU patent package discussions, which I was happy to negotiate on behalf of the Parliament's ECR group. I am very supportive of many of the provisions in the package which will reduce costs and burdens for patentees, securing their intellectual property rights, thereby making them and the EU much more competitive and innovative.

The unitary patent and court will be a cost effective solution providing confidence to Europe's businesses. They will no longer be required to file applications with each national patent office as they will automatically have patent protection across 26 member states, allowing them to concentrate on selling their products.

There will also be significant savings in translation costs which patentees will benefit from. While Croatia and Spain are not currently participating, I remain hopeful that they may decide to do so eventually.

On the issue of renewal fees, which have been set at a level similar to the sum total of renewal fees paid for protection in Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands, I am confident that businesses will make substantial savings versus the current costs of EU-wide protection without a unitary patent.

Finally, as a British MEP, I am delighted that London will play a major part in the new unitary patent court - which will deal with EU patent disputes in one place - by hosting one of the three courts of first instance, This is expected to be operational by early 2017.

Once established, businesses can start taking advantage of the benefits of the unitary patent, so they can continue to grow and innovate.