European Patent with Unitary Effect: Patent Translations in the Transition Period

The introduction of the European patent with unitary effect (also known as the unitary patent) enables patent holders to protect their inventions in 25 member states by filing a single patent application at the European Patent Office. The procedure up to granting of the unitary patent remains the same as for regular European patents without unitary effect.

After the patent is granted, there will be no need to validate it one by one in each country, making the whole procedure simpler and much less expensive. Inventors will no longer have to comply with complex validation requirements that vary by jurisdiction, and most importantly, the introduction of the unitary patent will substantially lower translation costs in the participating Member States.

Anybody, regardless of the country of origin, can opt for a unitary patent. Administration is centralized at the EPO throughout the patent’s lifetime, until the end of the patent term (20 years from the filing date of the patent application at the latest).

Legal framework

The 'unitary patent package' consists of three elements:

  • Council Regulation 1257/2012 - Unitary Patent – (December 17, 2012) creating a European patent with unitary effect (or unitary patent);
  • Council Regulation 1260/2012 - Translation of Unitary Patent – (December 17, 2012) establishing a language regime applicable to the Unitary patent;
  • Agreement on a Unified Patent Court – (January 11, 2013) - international agreement among Member States setting up a single patent jurisdiction: the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Current situation regarding translation regime

Applications for European patents can be filed in any language. However, if the application was not filed in English, German or French, a translation into one of the official languages of the EPO needs to be provided. This becomes the language in which the proceedings are conducted and in which the patent is granted. Also, before grant, translations of the claims into two other official languages other than the language of the proceedings have to be filed. This language regime remains the same for the unitary patent.

During a transitional period ranging from 6 to 12 years (sooner if the European Council decides that high quality machine translations into all official languages of the Union are available on-line and free of charge, and terminates the transitional period) unitary patents that were granted in French or German will need to be translated into English and the ones granted in English will have to be translated to another official language of the European Union.

It is important to stress that in this phase a translation to another official language of the Union has no legal effect and is for information purposes only. Importance of choosing another official language of the Union comes only in the later stage in case of proceedings before the UPC.

In the event of a dispute relating to an alleged infringement of a unitary patent, the patent proprietor shall provide, at the request and the choice of an alleged infringer, a full translation of the unitary patent into an official language of either the participating Member State in which the alleged infringement took place or in which the alleged infringer is domiciled.

In the event of a dispute related to a unitary patent, the patent proprietor shall provide, at the request of a competent court in the participating Member States, a full translation of the patent into the language used in the proceedings.

What Dennemeyer can do for you

Dennemeyer is in a unique position to offer patent holders translation services in all official languages of the EU at a competitive rate. Furthermore, we have specifically tailored 2 translation services to meet the following scenarios:

  1. If the language of the proceedings is English and the invention relates to the field of mechanical engineering, i.e. IPC classification F, we strongly recommend a German translation to be prepared as potential stand-alone nullity patent actions would be litigated in Munich, and the court might request a German translation. At the time of publication, our rate for translation to German is EUR 12 / 100 words of target language.
  2. If the language of the proceedings is English and the invention relates to the field of chemistry, including pharmaceuticals (IPC class C), or human necessities (IPC class A), potential nullity actions would be conducted in London. The patent holder can choose another official language of the Union, and we would recommend Romanian. Dennemeyer can provide such translations at a competitive rate. At the time of publication, our rate for translation to Romanian is EUR 4 / 100 words of target language, being the lowest translation rate we offer for any accepted language.

Summary

Until the European Council decides to terminate the transitional period for providing translations, patent holders will have to prepare patent translations in at least English and, along with either German or French, another official language of the EU. Dennemeyer has prepared several options regarding translation services so that patent holders can fulfill the language regime applicable to the unitary patent.

If you are interested to learn more about the European patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court as well as our related services, please contact us at info@dennemeyer-law.com