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Reviewed 30 November 2008

London Agreement

The London Agreement on the application of Article 65 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) will enter into force on 1 May 2008.

The London Agreement is expected to significantly reduce the cost of patenting through the European Patent Office (EPO), by almost halving the current translation costs associated with European patents. UK businesses will save an estimated £10 million every year by not having to file unnecessary patent translations, which currently account for 25% of the cost of an average European patent application.

Applicants for European patents which designate the UK will be able to take advantage of the three-month period for filing translations with the Intellectual Property Office, see Patents Rules 2007, Rule 56(6), meaning that translations will not need to be filed with the Intellectual Property Office for European patents granted from 1 February 2008: three months prior to the date of entry into force. Any translations filed within this three month period will continue to be dealt with according to the current law. Detailed guidance for practitioners is available on the Intellectual Property Office website.

The London Agreement requires ratification by eight EPO contracting states, including the UK, Germany and France, for it to enter into force. The Agreement will enter into force on the first day of the fourth month following deposit of instruments of ratification by sufficient states. The French government took the decision to ratify the Agreement on 18 October 2007, following approval by the French parliament and has now deposited its instrument of ratification. Ratification by France means that the Agreement will enter into force on 1 May 2008 for fourteen European states External Link.

More information on the London Agreement can be found on the European Patent Office website External Link.

Editor's notes

In June 1999 the Paris Intergovernmental conference mandated the working party on cost reduction to find ways of reducing translation-related patent costs by 50%.

The Agreement on translations was adopted at the second Intergovernmental Conference in London in October, 2000. (Hence, the ‘London Agreement’)

Secondary legislation to enable ratification by the UK was approved in 2005 (The Patents (Translation) Rules 2005). These provisions were superseded by rule 56 of the Patent Rules 2007 External Link which now provides the necessary legislation. Guidance notes are available.

The London Agreement requires ratification by eight EPO contracting states, including the UK, Germany and France, for it to enter into force. Ratification by France means the Agreement will enter into force.

On October 9, 2007 the French Senate voted to approve ratification of the London Agreement. This followed approval of the same legislation by the French National Assembly on September 26, 2007. The President formally approved ratification on 18 October 2007.

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