PARIS ¿ France Biotech, the French biotechnology industry association, has welcomed the ¿London agreement on patents¿, which is designed to simplify and expedite the procedure for filing patents in Europe, and reduce the cost.

The association says France and other European companies are ¿handicapped by the length and the cost of obtaining European patents,¿ especially because of the need to have them translated into the language of each country they cover after they have been granted. The whole procedure can take as long as five years.

The new agreement will significantly reduce the time and cost since it no longer will be necessary to translate the whole of the patent¿s text into all the other languages ¿ only the key parts ¿ and taxes on national and European patents are to be reduced.

¿France Biotech agrees with the government in considering that only the translation of the strategic part of a patent ¿ the claims that define the invention¿s characteristics and scope ¿ is necessary to protect the owner¿s rights,¿ the organization said in a statement.

The organization said the current system is a ¿significant brake for the biotechnology sector, which is driven by small and medium-sized companies, and for public research establishments, which are often forced to forego effective protection of their inventions.¿

France is currently in fifth place for the filing of biotechnology patents in Europe, accounting for 5.5 percent of the total, behind the U.S. (47 percent), Japan (12.2 percent), Germany (8.3 percent) and the UK (6.8 percent).

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