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Cost of pan-European patent protection to plummet in May

Full English translations no longer required

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The cost of pan-European patent protection will be slashed on 1st May this year, the date when a new agreement on translations comes into effect. Full translations of applications filed in English will no longer be required.

The London Agreement (pdf) will halve the cost of European patents, according to the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA). Though full agreement was reached last October, the implementation date of 1st May has only now been agreed.

"Businesses here will no longer be put off by the high cost of getting patent protection throughout Europe," said Robert Weston, president of CIPA. "When other member states of the European Patent Convention that have not ratified the London Agreement follow suit it will mean that a single application, made in just one language, will give patent protection in a market of over 300 million consumers."

"This will put Europe in a similar to the situation for patenting costs that American companies have enjoyed for decades," said Weston.

The London Agreement was made in 2000 and allows for patents to be valid even if not produced in all Europe's languages, cutting translation costs dramatically.

Eight countries had to ratify the Agreement before it could come into force, and three of those had to be the UK, Germany and France. Eleven countries have now signed up, and France was the last of those to do so last October.

It does away with the need to have an entire patent application translated into the language of every country in which the applicant wants it to take effect.

Countries where English, French and German is not the native tongue will choose one of these to be their language of patents. As long as the patent is available in that language, the patent holder will not have to translate it into the official language of that country.

For countries where the official language is English, French or German the patent holder will not have to produce a translation as long as the patent is in one of those three languages. The patent claims, which outline the scope of the patent, will have to be produced in all three languages, though.

CIPA estimates that the new rules will save more than €7,000 in costs per patent, on average. Previously an applicant could get the right to have a European Patent Office patent just by filing in English, French or German.

But they had to translate the patent into the language of any country where they wanted the patent to take effect. CIPA said that translating into Europe's 22 official languages would cost over €30,000.

CIPA said that on average patents were translated into seven languages, at a cost of €1,000 per language.

“This is particularly welcome news for small and medium-sized businesses as it will reduce the average cost of getting European patent protection by more than €7,000," said Weston.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related links

Further info about the London Agreement
Status of accession and ratification

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