The European Patent Office (EPO) is ramping up its PR activity ahead of this week's parliamentary vote on proposals to harmonise patent litigation across Europe's states.
EPO president Alain Pompidou addressed the annual EPO online services conference in Lisbon today, arguing for an "enhanced patent culture" in Europe.
"If Europe really wants to become the world's leading knowledge economy by 2010, the patent network urgently needs to be developed," he said.
He noted that the European Commission's public consultation on the patenting system showed that it needs attention. Two proposals currently on the table would improve things dramatically, he argued.
First, he said, the so-called London Protocol must be ratified. This agreement sets out to reduce the costs of translating European patents by allowing member states to totally or partly waive the translation of European patents.
But more important is the European Patent Litigation Agreement, the EPLA.
Critics of the proposal argue that it would give the EPO too much power without accountability, that it will increase the costs of enforcing or challenging a patent, that it would undermine the judiciary, and that it could pave the way for legitimising software patents.
But Pompidou, unsurprisingly, sees only good in the text, particularly in its proposal for a centralised European Patent court.
This, he argues would "significantly enhance legal security for patent owners and the public alike".
"Such a court is the obvious missing element in the present system", he added.
The vote on the EPLA is scheduled for 11/12 October, with the 12th looking the more likely date. ®