BLOG POST

EU Patent & Patent Translations

This past December, the European Union took a major step towards creating a single Europe-wide patent system, which has been a goal of European ministers and patent officials for many years. Currently, the European Patent Office (EPO) does grant European patents, but these patents must still be converted into national patents in each of EU designated states, which is both expensive and laborious. The EU patent would solve this problem, and provide patent rights that are consistent across Europe.

In December, EU ministers made a big breakthrough in negotiations concerning the EU patent, agreeing to set up a single patent court for the EU. But the plan still has a long way to go, and for now, 27 EU governments are awaiting a legal opinion from the European Court of Justice and the input of the European Parliament before moving ahead.

What does this mean for patent translations? Since the London Agreement went into force in May 2008, most EU countries do not require translating a full patent into one of their official languages if the patent was drafted in one of the official languages of the EPO (i.e., English, French, or German). Several contracting states still require that the claims be translated into their official language, but do not require a translation of the description. The London Agreement has certainly reduced the translation costs involved in filing patents in Europe, which, according to the EPO, can account for over 40 percent of the overall filing costs. (For biotech and chemical patents, the translation costs can be significantly higher.) But the London Agreement—while it reduced the need for patent translation—did not solve the problem of high translation costs in Europe. Many EU states still have not signed the London Agreement, and as anyone who has filed a long patent application broadly across Europe knows, the translation costs can still be exorbitant, easily exceeding $100,000 when filing with expensive foreign associates. The EPO’s goal of a “post-grant language regime” where only claims have to be translated into national languages and the description can remain in English only still seems quite far away, and getting patent protection in the EU still costs 11 times as much as it does in the United States.

Obviously, an EU patent would supplant the London Agreement and could eliminate the need for any translations if the original application is written in English. Questel’s branch Morningside will continue to closely monitor developments at the EPO and the EU as far as translations are concerned, in our continued efforts to reduce translation costs for our clients.

Related articles

WEBINAR

Get up to speed on the latest in IP Invoice and Cost Management

Intellectual Property

You are instructing directly or via your local IP law firms foreign associates across the world to file and prosecute patents on your behalf.

WEBINAR

Smart & visual sequence variations explorer in patent data By Orbit BioSequence

Intellectual Property

We demonstrate Orbit BioSequence’s new Variant analysis interface which allows you to analyze, view, and manipulate variations across multiple sequence results altogether. Understanding the commonality and its opposite or, the rarity of specific mutations related to your own sequence has never been easier. we showed  how to find answers to questions like: What are your… Read More »Smart & visual sequence variations explorer in patent data By Orbit BioSequence

WEBINAR

Managing Costs & Increasing Bandwidth for Tech Transfer Offices

Intellectual Property

Technology transfer offices are tasked with the same goals and objectives as larger corporate organizations, without the same budgets or personnel.

Join Dr. Eric F. Wagner, Director of Legal Affairs at Duke University, as we discuss how his team partners with Questel to help secure global..