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London Protocol: reduction of translation costs of European patents in major EPC states

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London Protocol: reduction of translation costs of European patents in major EPC states

France has recently ratified the London Protocol. As a result, the protocol will finally come into force soon, probably in the spring of 2008.

European patents have to be translated into the national languages of the member states of the European Patent Convention (EPC) to become valid in these countries. This is a relatively costly procedure, especially when the patent has to be validated in a large number of member states. This translation requirement is based upon Article 65 EPC.

In 2000 a number of member states of the EPC signed a Protocol to Article 65, which was designed to reduce the translation requirements for European patents in a number of EPC states . These EPC states include some of the more patent-minded countries in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The President of France, Mr. Sarkozy, has recently signed a law in France, ratifying the London Protocol. This means that the protocol will finally come into force, probably in the spring of 2008.

For the countries that have ratified the London Protocol, two different translation regimes will come into existence: 

– In the countries having one of the three official languages (English, German or French) as a national language, a granted European patent can be validated directly, without a translation. 

– In the countries that have another language as a national language, such as the Netherlands, one of English, German and French shall be chosen, in which the patent may be validated. So far, all the countries concerned have chosen English.

For the latter group of states, a patent granted in German or French will still require a full translation.

In the London Protocol, countries have the option of requiring a translation of the claims into a national language of that country. So far most of the countries have made use of this provision.

When the European patent application is therefore filed in English, it can be validated after grant directly in all of the states party to the London Protocol, with only the claims having to be translated into the respective national languages. For countries having French or German as a national language, these English claims will already be available in the granted patent. Therefore, this can reduce the translation costs considerably.

VEREENIGDE can arrange for validation of European patents in all of the member states of the EPC. When the London Protocol comes into force, for the states party to the London Protocol only an English text and translations of the claims into the national languages will be required, which will make the process of validation in these countries even easier and more cost effective.

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