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Around the World in TBED

December 12, 2012

In the face of the spiraling unemployment in Greece and Spain, the European Union (EU) received encouraging news regarding the economic recovery of firms across its 27-member states. According to the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, European firms reported increased R&D investment (8.9 percent nominal growth), sales (4.9 percent nominal growth) and profits (3.5 percent nominal growth) for the second straight year in 2011. The 8.9 percent growth in R&D investments by European firms puts them above world average and similar than that of U.S. firms (9.0 percent). However, U.S.-based firms continue to perform better than EU-based firms in terms of sales growth (12.3 percent for U.S. firms versus 4.9 percent for EU firms) and profits growth (12.4 percent for U.S. firms versus 3.5 percent for EU firms). These numbers are particularly encouraging for the EU only two years after reporting negative growth in Industrial R&D investment in 2008 and a continuation of adverse market conditions and uncertainties due to the persistent effects of the crisis including the potential collapse of the Spanish and Greek economies.

The European Union announced it would push forward with the establishment of a common patent framework without Italy and Spain — both of which declined to take part in the unitary patent. Twenty-five of the EU's 27 industry ministers agreed to allow inventors to register their ideas with one EU agency by signing off on a project proposed almost 30 years ago. Delayed by a series of disputes, including over where to site the new patent office, the project still has one more hurdle to overcome. Early in 2013, the EU Court of Justice will rule on a complaint from Italy and Spain that the proposed language regime unfairly favors English, French and German. If the court rejects the complaint, the common patent will commence on January 1, 2014.

The proposed system is intended to dramatically reduce the cost and red tape of filing for a patent in the European Union. According to an article from Euractiv.com, the current system makes the process 18 times more expensive than in the United States and 60 times more than in China because patents have to be registered separately in individual EU countries. Under the new system, patent applications would be submitted in English, French or German. Applicants filing in another language would need to provide a translation into one of these three working languages — universities, individuals, small businesses and nonprofit organizations based in the European Union would get these translation costs refunded according to an article from sciencemag.org. The single EU patent will still cost €5,000 (over $6,500 U.S.) on average, more than double the U.S. level at about €1,850 ($2,390 U.S.).

Internationalintellectual property, ssti features, r&d