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Squabbling EU heads force Council to split patent court in 3

The Register - The UK, France and Germany have removed the last obstacle to the formation of a unified European patent system by divvying up the court between them.

The three European powerhouses have been holding up the end of a process that's been going on for decades to try to bring all of Europe's patent laws and disputes under one system so companies only have to get one patent and only have to litigate once.

But European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said today that EU leaders had reached a decision at a council meeting.

"After 30 years of discussions on a European patent we reached an agreement on the last outstanding issue, the seat of the Unified Patent Court," he said in a canned statement shortly after announcing the agreement on Twitter.

The squabbling chiefs of state came to a compromise by breaking the central court down into three parts, one for each country, which sort of belies the word "central".

Paris gets the seat of the court, which will be called the Court of First Instance of the Unified Patent Court, and it will get the president of that court's office as well.

The Council then claimed that "given the highly specialised nature of patent litigation and the need to maintain high quality standards", it thought it might have two "thematic clusters" as well. In other words, London will hear cases on chemistry including pharmaceuticals and life sciences, while Munich gets mechanical engineering.

"The agreement reached today on the Unitary Patent will lead to considerably reduced costs for SMEs and give a boost to innovation, by providing an affordable, high quality patent in Europe, with a single specialised jurisdiction," the Council's findings said.