1. Legal basis
Under Article 65(1) of the European Patent Convention, any contracting state may, if the European patent as granted, amended or limited by the European Patent Office is not drawn up in one of its official languages, prescribe that the proprietor of the patent supply to its central industrial property office a translation of the patent as granted, amended or limited in one of that state's official languages at his option or, where that state has prescribed the use of one specific official language, in that language.
Under Article 1(1) of the London Agreement,[*] a contracting state to the Agreement which has an official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO will dispense with the translation requirements under Article 65(1) EPC.
Under Article 1(2) of the London Agreement, a contracting state to the Agreement which does not have an official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO will dispense with the translation requirements under Article 65(1) EPC if the European patent
- has been granted in the EPO official language prescribed by that state, or
- is translated into that language and filed under Article 65(1) EPC.
Under Article 1(3) of the London Agreement, such a contracting state can, however, require that a translation of the claims into one of its official languages be filed under Article 65(1) EPC.
Article 65(2) EPC provides that any contracting state which has adopted provisions under Article 65(1) EPC may prescribe that the proprietor of the patent must pay all or part of the costs of publication of such translation within a period laid down by the state.
All EPC contracting states have prescribed, in accordance with Article 65(3) EPC, that in the event of failure to observe the relevant national provisions, the European patent will be deemed to be void ab initio. The circumstances in which such a loss of rights occurs are determined by the national law of the contracting states concerned. In most contracting states the time limit for filing the translation is non-extendable.
The following table also contains information on any documents and translations patent proprietors are required to file with the central industrial property offices of the extension and validation states for granted, amended or limited patents.
2. Effect of the European patent as a national patent
Under Article 64(1) EPC (or the relevant national legislation in the extension and validation states), a European patent automatically confers on its proprietor from the date on which the mention of the grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin, in each contracting state in respect of which it is granted, the same rights as would be conferred by a national patent granted in that state.
Accordingly, the proprietor needs to take no action before the central industrial property office in respect of European patents granted for Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland/Liechtenstein or the United Kingdom. Subject to Article 68 EPC, a European patent takes effect as a national patent on the date on which the mention of the grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin.
See Table VI regarding payment of national renewal fees to the central industrial property offices.
3. Different sets of claims
If, in the event of prior national rights, the European patent application contains different sets of claims for different states (Rule 138 EPC), only a translation of the set of claims applicable to the state in question need be filed
4. Explanatory notes concerning the table
The following table contains information helping applicants to check what requirements and obligations apply when filing translations with the central industrial property office for each of the EPC contracting states and extension or validation states.
[*] Agreement on the application of Article 65 of the European Patent Convention (see OJ EPO 2001, 549 and 2008, 123).