KARLSRUHE Germany's constitutional court has held up a European patent law that would have allowed inventors in any member country to easily challenge patent violations in any other EU country, a spokeswoman said on Monday.
Years in the planning, the new law would set up patent courts in EU member states that would allow patentholders to seek redress for any infringements in their own countries, even if they occurred in another EU country.
The German decision to hold up implementation of the common system means a lost opportunity - at least temporarily - for business to lower their costs, because they must continue defending their patents in expensive cross-border legal proceedings in different member states.
The constitutional court, Germany's highest judicial body, did not disclose the nature of the complaint it had received, saying only that it would be examined as quickly as possible.
The court, based in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe, can annul laws it deems unconstitutional, potentially undermining the entire planned European system.
The court asked German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to delay signing the implementing act until it had time to assess the complaint.
"The president agreed to do so until a ruling has been made," the court's spokeswoman said, adding that this was the "typical approach" in such cases.
(Reporting by Ursula Knapp; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Tom Heneghan)