The London Agreement is now in force, providing for the potential to reduce the translation costs for validating a European patent.

Under the arrangement before 1st May 2008, it was generally necessary to translate the entirety of the European Patent into a national language of a country for the European Patent to be validated in that country. The requirement for multiple translations made the cost for obtaining a European Patent comparatively high, especially where it was desired to cover multiple countries.

On 1st May 2008, the London Agreement on the Application of Article 65 EPC came into force. The London Agreement restricts the translation requirements which can be imposed by European Patent Convention states for European Patents to have legal effect (i.e., be validated) in these states.

The London Agreement has been ratified by fourteen countries so far: Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Under the London Agreement, designated states which have English, French or German as an official language cannot require any further translations of the specification to be filed in order for validation to take place. Currently, these states are: France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. A European Patent will necessarily be granted in one of English, French and German (the EPO Official Languages), and hence will not need to be translated for these countries.

Other designated states which do not have English, French or German as an official language may nominate one of these languages, and can require a translation into that language to be filed in order for validation to take place. They may also require a translation of the claims of the patent into their national language. Currently, these states are: Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden.

For example, Denmark and Sweden have selected English as their language for translation but require translation of the claims into Danish and Swedish respectively. A European patent granted in English will only need its claims translated into Danish or Swedish in order to satisfy the translation requirements for these two countries. The specification will no longer need to be translated in full.

Please contact Cantab IP if you require more information on the London Agreement or European patents in general.

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