Friday, 5 April 2013

Reimbursement of translation costs

European patent applications may be filed in any language. Literally any language at all. Since, not all Examiner are fluent in, say, Cantonese you are required to file a translation into one of the official EPO languages too.

Not all languages of the EPO member states are official languages of the EPO (English, German and French)--in fact most are not. To compensate those applicants who happen to live in a country which does not speak an official EPO language there is a fee reduction for those applicants (R.6, A.14(4) EPC).

The unitary patent regulation extends this system of cost reductions for applicants who are disadvantage because of their language. Article 5 Reg.1260/2012 provides for reimbursement of all translation costs up to a ceiling for
- patent applications filed at the EPO in an official language of the Union that is not an official language of the EPO
- by a  SMEs, natural persons, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations
having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State.

Note that the requirement is that the applicant has residence or principal place of business within a Member State. Member states probably mean EU member states.  The costs for this scheme should be paid out of the renewal fees for European patents with unitary effect.

Curiously, the preamble of Reg.1260/2012 (point 10) stipulates that the reimbursements only apply to "certain applicants obtaining European patents with unitary effect". I suppose this would make requesting unitary effect more attractive.

However, article 5 refers all applicants filing any patent applications, i.e., with or without unitary effect.

This may be intentional because at the time of filing an application it is not known if the application will have unitary effect or not. The request for unitary effect is not due until one month after the mention of the grant. To restrict reimbursement to applicants who apply for unitary effect, the reimbursement would be delayed until grant, possibly for many years.


  1. Antonio Pizzoli11 April 2013 at 10:59

    The reimbursement is available also for Italian and Spanish applicants, since Art. 5.2 (last line) relates to all "Member States" of the EU, not only "participating Member States" (see also Art. 2a Reg.1257/2012).

    1. I think you are right. Art. 5(2) of regulation 1260/2012 only refers to 'Member states', not 'participating Member States'. No definition is given, but it is reasonable to say that Member states of the EU are meant.

      I have corrected the blog text. Thanks for spotting this.