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2012-12-13 |

Multinationals to benefit from unified EU Patent Scheme, NGOs warn

No patents on broccoli! No patents on broccoli! (Photo: h-bomb/flickr)

On Tuesday, the European Parliament approved a unified European patent scheme, which is intended to accelerate the granting of patents within the EU and make it less expensive for companies to file patents. Ahead of the vote, a coalition of civil society organisations - ‘No Patents on Seeds’ called for the rejection of the proposal. “Multinational companies like Monsanto are the most likely to profit from the Unitary Patent as a 'one stop shop' to gain fast track monopolies within the EU” said Christoph Then from the coordination of the coalition, warning that the adoption of the EU Unitary Patent would put the interests of the industry above those of consumers, farmers and traditional breeders. Up to now, it was necessary for companies to register their patents separately in each EU Member State at a cost of 36,000 euros, whereas patents under the new scheme will cost just 5,000 euros, according to the EU Commission. The new patent legislation also approved the establishment of a Unified Patent Court – another cause for concern for ‘No Patents on Seeds’. The legislation excludes the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) from taking final decisions, meaning there will be no possibility of appealing to the ECJ against decisions taken by the Unified Patent Court. Furthermore, in comparison to procedures at the European Patent Office, the new court will mean higher litigation costs for NGOs who want to lodge an appeal in the public interest, for example against patents on life warned Christoph Then.

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