Listen To The Story


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Bill Gates is in Brussels today where he'll press for changes in European patent law. He's lobbying for a "single system" of patent protection. It would cover all 25 countries in the European Union. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

STEPHEN BEARD: Bill Gates isn't the only one who wants a single EU patent system.

Many other businesses have been pushing for it for years for obvious reasons. At the moment the cost of getting protection for intellectual property throughout the EU is three or four times higher than in the U.S.

Companies have to file their applications and defend their patents in each of the 25 member states, says Francisco Mingorance of the Business Software Alliance:

FRANCISCO MINGORANCE: That makes a lot of languages . And that makes the cost of filing a patent skyrocket because of this translation requirement.

But in spite of Bill Gates' intervention, the stumbling blocks to a unified EU-wide patent system remain. And the biggest problem is language.

The member states cannot agree on which of Europe's 20 languages the patents should be filed.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.