The London Agreement - A reduction in European Patent translation costs

The London Agreement was concluded on 17 October 2000 with the aim of creating a reduction in the cost of post grant translations of European patents.

The Agreement was readily ratified by a number of member states including the United Kingdom and Germany, but there was a delay in France who had to ratify the Agreement for it to take effect.

On 26 September 2007, the French Assembly voted in favour of the Agreement and the French Senate subsequently approved the bill on 10 October 2007.

The Agreement will come into force four months after the date that the French deposit their Instrument of Accession at the EPO. This formality is expected to be concluded shortly and so the Agreement should enter into force in early 2008.

Under the Agreement, member states party to the Agreement agree to waive � entirely or partly � the requirement for translations of already granted patents into their national language. Members states having a national language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO, such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom will dispense with translation requirements altogether.

Although the requirement to file translations of the claims into English, French and German remains under the Agreement, considerable cost savings can be made by avoiding the need to translate the patent description into many official languages as is the case at present.

For example, after the Agreement comes into force, a European Patent granted in English will not need to be translated into German or French beyond the requirement for translating the claims into German and French. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Slovenia and Lithuania have submitted that only the claims, not the patent description, must be additionally translated into their national language.

For those countries which have indicated that a translation of the patent description at grant is not required, a translation of the patent description into that member state’s language will be required in the event of court proceedings in that member state.

Not all the member states party to the EPC have signed up to the Agreement � Spain and Italy for example have expressed reservations and so full translations of the specification and claims will be required in those countries. Moreover, additional legislation may need to be passed in some of the member states already signed-up to enable the Agreement to have effect.

However, should the Agreement come into force and prove popular with applicants we would expect more member states to sign up to the Agreement thereby reducing the costs of patent translation even further.

Since the deadline for filing translations into national languages is 3 months from the date of grant, it is likely that any presently pending applications will benefit from the Agreement.

For any applications which have already begun the grant procedure, it should be possible to use delaying tactics so that the ultimate deadline for submitting the translations of the granted Patent occurs after the Agreement comes into force. Any additional costs incurred through such delaying tactics should be outweighed by the savings made through a reduction in the translation requirements.

The information provided in this article is, of course, of a general nature and should not be considered as legal advice; if you have any specific questions, please contact Jon Broughton at HLBBshaw in Epping, Essex, UK. E-mail: Visit the website at

The information contained in this alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.


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