February 01, 2008

By Bill Lyon, Ph.D.

The London Agreement, which was originally crafted in October, 2000, to curb the costs of acquiring patent rights in member countries of the European Patent Organization ("EPO"), was ratified on January 29, 2008, and will go into force on May 1, 2008. Currently, while the EPO will accept patent applications in one of its three official languages (English, French and German), upon grant the patent will need to be translated into the language of that specific country to effect ratification. Under the London Agreement, however, any member state having English, German or French as its official language agrees to waive the translation requirement of a patent which was granted in one of those languages.

In an estimate provided by the EPO, translation fees for a granted patent into another language would cost on average EUR 1,400. Considering that most granted European patents are ratified in several countries, it is estimated that this will amount to a considerable cost savings.

As of now, the provisions of this agreement will affect Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Under Article 2 of the London Agreement, and in the case of a patent dispute, the patent proprietor must, at his own expense, supply a full translation of the patent to the alleged infringer and to the competent court. Inclusion of additional countries into this agreement beyond those listed above is still possible through agreement of the party country.

EPO News Article: LINK
London Agreement (PDF): LINK

Bill Lyon is a Practice Group Specialist with Ice Miller LLP, focusing his efforts on domestic and foreign patent prosecution.


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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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