Intellectual Property Alert: The London Agreement

The London Agreement (the “Agreement”) will come into force on 1 May 2008 and will enable a reduction in the cost for obtaining patents in Europe because it will significantly reduce post-grant translation costs in Europe.

Up to now, in most member states of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the complete patent specification of a granted European patent has had to be translated into one of the official national languages of the state, otherwise the patent would be deemed void ab initio.

Under the Agreement, which was adopted on 17 October 2000, but only recently ratified by sufficient member states to enable it to come into force, several contracting states to the European Patent Convention have agreed largely or entirely to waive the requirement for translations of European patents into their national languages. This means that at least from 1 May 2008, European patent proprietors will no longer have to file translations of their patents in EPC member states that are also party to the London Agreement and have one of the three official languages of the European Patent Office (EPO) (English, French or German) as an official language. In countries that do not have one of the official languages of the EPO as an

official language, patentees will only be required to submit a full translation of the patent into one of the EPO official languages designated by that state for that purpose. A translation of the claims into one of the official languages of the member state may still be required.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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