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London Agreement to enter into force on 1 May 2008

The London Agreement is due to come into force on 1 May 2008, since France deposited the instrument of ratification on 29 January.

This will reduce the translation costs of a European patent in a number of the member states of the European Patent Convention, including the Netherlands.

Under the London Agreement, a number of contracting states largely or entirely waive the requirement for translations of granted European patents in their national language. Accordingly, the agreement will affect post-grant translations costs for European patents that are granted on or after 1 May 2008. Countries that are party to the London Agreement, by ratification or accession, and will hence be affected by it, are Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Iceland, Latvia and Croatia. Denmark and Sweden are expected to follow soon.

Countries having a national language that is also an official EPO language, such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland/Liechtenstein, will dispense with translation requirements entirely. However, as a part of the official procedure and before a European patent is granted, it will remain mandatory to have the claims translated from the language of the proceedings into the other two official languages.

Countries having no national language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO (English, French, German) must choose one of these three languages. If the patent is granted in that language, it will no longer be required that the patent be translated into a national language. At present, all states have chosen English. In addition, these states may require that the claims of the patent be translated into the respective national, i.e. non-EPO, language.

Impact for the Netherlands
In order to validate in the Netherlands a European patent issued in English after 1 May, it will be sufficient to file a Dutch translation of the claims and pay the Dutch fee. In order to validate a patent written in German or French in the Netherlands after 1 May, it will not be sufficient to file only a Dutch translation of the claims; a translation of the description into Dutch or English is also required.

In the Netherlands, the scope of protection offered by the patent will be determined by the translation of the claims. If the scope offered by the translation is narrower than the original, the translation will be held authentic. Under the new regime the translation of the claims, the crucial part of the patent, no longer follows from a translation of the integral text, nor does it form a part thereof. Consequently, the effort required for making top grade translations will be proportionately greater. Implementation of the London Agreement will therefore have its impact on the way we will handle and process future validations in the Netherlands, in order to maintain our high standard of translations.

VEREENIGDE is currently addressing the legal, procedural and financial impact of this matter and will inform you in due course. Should you require additional information in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us via your attorney or via Business Support.