European Union approves new common patent system

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The European Union has approved a new common patent system designed to cut red tape and streamline procedures across much of Europe.

The European Parliament concluded the drawn-out decision-making process, backing a cluster of packages by a wide majority to end nearly four decades of fighting and negotiating over the issue. Currently, patents are filed in individual EU nations, and ending the convoluted procedure is seen as key to reduce costs and boost innovation with cheaper patents.

EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier said: “This is a historic agreement because it has taken us many decades to get here.”

A common patent will be in place on 1 January 2014 if judges in the highest EU court dismiss objections by Spain and Italy next year.