For a common market, a common patent and a common patent litigation seem self-evident. Although efforts to introduce these common market institutions in Europe started early in the history of the Economic Community, they remained unsuccessful. The reconstruction of this legal history is focused on two theoretical issues.The first concerns the question of power and influence in the EU, in particular the configuration of stakeholders responsible for the non-decision making on this policy issue. The basic mechanism underlying the lack of success of this dossier appears to be a balance of power between the two opposing groups of stakeholders (France and European institutions vs. Germany, UK, supported by their patenting industry and legal experts). This suggests that transnational rule making, proceeding under similar conditions, is likely to have a long (if not unsuccessful) ‘issue career’.The second theoretical issue concerns the agenda-setting mechanisms of recent decades. All initiatives on international or transnational patent policy have mainly been the product of ‘high politics’, although the input of patent legal experts (representatives of ‘low politics’) has increased considerably in recent decades. Further, this history would seem to defy simple schemes of agenda setting. There is no simple sequence of issue initiation, specification, expansion and entrance. At best, it is a series of such sequences.
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