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Costs of patent litigation in English courts and a possible unified European Patent Court

A proposal by the European Commission for a single Europe-wide community patent enforced by a central court in Luxembourg has been bogged down for years, but the Fin. Times, Nov. 8, 2006 at 6 points out some reasons why the initiative has gotten a fresh impetus. One is that “Patent proceedings in the English courts are usually relatively quick, but costs typically range around £1-£1.5m” ($1.9 million to $2.9 million at today’s conversion rate.). Experts have estimated that the cost of a medium-sized case under the proposed system could come down by two-thirds, to around £350,000.

Law department patent lawyers would applaud the greater efficiency of a single European court for patents and its cost-saving features (See my posts of May 1, 2005 on comparable patent litigation costs in the US six years ago — approximately $1.5; March 29, 2005 about that figure rising two years later to $2 million; and Nov.30, 2005 for more patent-litigation cost data and references.). Isn’t it odd, by the way, that the cost estimates of patent litigation in the US and in England match each other so closely – near the mid-$2 million mark?