Key points

Entry into force

The London Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2008.

Scope of application

The London Agreement applies to European patents in respect of which the mention of grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin after the Agreement enters into force for the state concerned (see its Article 9). The new translation regime thus applies - in those states which have ratified or acceded to the London Agreement - to all European patents in respect of which the mention of grant was published in the European Patent Bulletin on or after 1 May 2008. For Albania, Lithuania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the London Agreement has no impact on the existing translation regime.

In Denmark, France (see Paris court of appeal judgment of 14 April 2010), Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland/Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom, the new rules also apply to European patents granted before 1 May 2008 and amended on or after that date (mention published in the European Patent Bulletin) in opposition, appeal or limitation proceedings. This is also the case for Hungary if a European patent was granted before 1 January 2011 and was amended on or after that date in opposition, appeal or limitation proceedings.

For Germany, the old translation requirements continue to apply to European patents granted before 1 May 2008 and amended on or after that date. For Finland, they also continue to apply to European patents granted before 1 November 2011, and for Norway to those granted before 1 January 2015.

For Croatia, there are no such transitional provisions.

Regarding the transitional provisions in Switzerland/Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom stipulating that European patents in respect of which the mention of grant was published before 1 May 2008 also fall under the London Agreement regime, see the information published by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Please note that Belgium has amended its national legislation to bring its translation regime into line with the London Agreement. Under the revised legislation, applicants are no longer required to file a translation into Dutch, French or German of the specification of European patents granted in English on or after 1 January 2017 (mention published in the European Patent Bulletin). The fee for filing the translation has also been abolished.

For European patents granted in English in respect of which the mention of grant, maintenance in amended form or limitation is published in the European Patent Bulletin before 1 January 2017, a translation of the specification into Dutch, French or German must still be supplied in accordance with Article 65(1) EPC.

Dispensation with translation requirements

The London Agreement distinguishes between (1) states having an official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO (English, French and German) and (2) states having no official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO.

1. States having an official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO dispense with translation requirements under Article 65(1) EPC (Article 1(1) of the London Agreement).

This provision currently applies to the following states:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

2. States which do not have an official language in common with one of the official languages of the EPO may require that a translation of the claims into one of their official languages be supplied (Article 1(3) of the London Agreement).

The following states require that the claims be supplied in their official language:

  • Albania (Albanian)
  • Croatia (Croatian)
  • Denmark (Danish)
  • Finland (Finnish)
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonian)
  • Hungary (Hungarian)
  • Iceland (Icelandic)
  • Latvia (Latvian)
  • Lithuania (Lithuanian)
  • Netherlands (Dutch)
  • Norway (Norwegian)
  • Sweden (Swedish)
  • Slovenia (Slovene)

The above states dispense with further translation requirements if the European patent has been granted in an official language of the EPO prescribed by them, or translated into that language and supplied under the conditions provided for in Article 65(1) EPC (Article 1(2) of the London Agreement).

The following states have prescribed English:

  • Albania
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden

In Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the European patent may also be supplied in the national language.

The following states have not prescribed any language under Article 1(2) of the London Agreement:

  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Slovenia

Please consult the EPO's publication "National law relating to the EPC" for further details regarding validation requirements in the EPC contracting states.

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