Getting a patent in Europe is hard. Making sure it's protected in every European Union member state is even harder. That's why the European Commission announced today that it plans on simplifying this notoriously convoluted process by proposing the legal framework for a unified patent court. Currently, patents must be validated in each member state to gain EU-wide protection, but as you know, patent litigation is everyone's favorite past time. Companies can incur prohibitively high costs simultaneously defending their claims in multiple countries. By cutting the number of patent courts down from 28 to one, a unified system would streamline the process of handling infringement cases, and perhaps even promote growth and innovation. While the measure must be approved by the European Parliament and individual EU states in order to become law, the proposal appears to be a step forward in the right direction.