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Patent Protection in Europe: Integrating Europe into the Community or the Community into Europe?

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Patent protection in Europe basically rests on two pillars: national grants or grants from the European Patent Organisation (EPO). The EPO grants patents by a centralised procedure with uniform conditions, but once granted the patents become national and subject to the divergent national laws of EPO–Member States. The system has been very successful, so successful, indeed, that it overshadowed the Community’s many unsuccessful attempts to set up a Community patent system of its own by way of a convention between Member States. As the Commission has recently stepped in by proposing the establishment of a Community Patent system by way of regulation, a kind of ‘cooperative rivalry’ has arisen between the Community and the EPO about how to unify patent protection in Europe. This rivalry not only mirrors divergent views on the politico–economic functions of the patent system, but also is illustrative of different concepts of regional integration in a context of global competition for innovation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: M.C.J. (N.Y. Univ.), Universit√§t der Bundeswehr M√ľnchen, Neubiberg, College of Europe, Bruges.

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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