Irish businesses will be able to register innovations Europe-wide, rather than country-by-country, under new rules.

The rules came into effect today when the majority of EU Member States signed the Unified Patent Court Agreement in Brussels.

The agreement is the last part of a package of measures that will provide a one-stop shop for enterprises to register and protect their patents in the European Union.

It represents the last official step in creating a single market in the EU for patents.

Its creation will save Irish businesses seeking patent coverage in Europe significant amounts of money, with up to €6 billion spent on patent translation costs alone a year.

Speaking in Brussels, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton described the move as "a truly historic moment".

He said: "The signing of the Unified Patent Court is a historic moment as it paves the way for the implementation of the patents package, which will give enterprises greater access to patent protection at European level, and make enforcement of patents more affordable.

"It is also an important milestone in the continued development of the Single Market - a priority for the Irish presidency. Indeed, achieving a unified patent litigation system was a major priority of the Single Market Act."

While in Brussels today, the minister also chaired the Competitiveness Council meeting of EU Industry and Internal Market Ministers today.

The meeting examined a report on the integration of the Single Market and also reviewed progress on implementing Single Market legislation and in driving new growth-enhancing measures.

Ireland now most prompt for new EU internal market directives

Minister Bruton has welcomed a new EU report that showed Ireland is the now the most prompt implementer of new EU Internal Market Directives.

The "Internal Market Scoreboard" gives Ireland a perfect score of 0.0%, which means that the country has put all due directives into force on time.

This is only the second time a member state has achieved a perfect score.

Internal market directives include such things as measures to simplify paperwork for exports and imports around the EU, common standards of health and safety for consumer goods, a level playing field for e-commerce and many more.

The Internal Market Scoreboard was first published 15 years ago, and the latest figures show great improvements by EU member states.

The EU average transposition deficit - the percentage of Internal Market Directives that have not been transposed into national law in time - has decreased from 6.3% in 1997 to a record new level of 0.6%.

This is below the 1% target agreed by the European Heads of State and Government in 2007 and close to the 0.5% deficit proposed in the Single Market Act in April 2011.

"I welcome this new record achieved by the member states and I am happy with the dynamism and strong commitment they have shown to making enforcement work on the ground. This is the best result ever," commented the Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier.