The European Union has adopted a common patent for the 27-nation bloc, after nearly four decades of debate about the issue.
The European Parliament adopted the single patent Tuesday after 25 of the EU countries agreed to replace the age-old system in which businesses file for patent protection separately in each country.
Spain and Italy protested use of the single patent because the documents will only be issued in three languages — English, French and German. But the EU advocate general dismissed the Italian and Spanish objections at the European Court of Justice.
Currently, the 60,000 patents issued across Europe each year can cost businesses more than $25,000, two-thirds of which is spent translating them into multiple languages. When the common patent is in place in 2014, the EU says it may cost as little as $6,400.