Monday, 8 April 2013

Reimbursement system (slightly) favors English

Regulation 1260/2012 of the unitary patent provides reimbursement of all translation costs (up to a ceiling) for certain applicants of European patents. According to the preamble of the regulation the reimbursements go beyond the fee reductions that are currently in place at the EPO. The new reimbursements will be administered by the EPO. We don't know how this will work. Possibly we will have to submit receipts of translation services in order to be eligible.

During the transitional period the unitary patent requires two translations.  The first translation occurs at the time of filing, and is only needed if the application was not in an official language of the EPO. The second translation is needed at the time of grant.

It appears that the reimbursement will only cover the first translation, not the second, even though Article 5 refers to the reimbursement of all translation costs

One reason is that article 5 refers to a compensation scheme (...) for applicants; the second translation is not due until the applicant has become a proprietor. Also the preamble explains that the reimbursement is for covering the costs of translating from the language of the patent application into the language of the proceedings.

If an applicant is eligible for the reimbursement, then there appears to be some financial benefit to choose English as the language in which the application is translated first. Remember, for the first translation you can choose between English, French and German.

Say, the original patent application is written and filed in Dutch. Then you have a translation made in English. The language of the proceedings becomes English. When the patent is granted you request unitary effect and file the original application as the translation of the granted patent. Possibly you need to apply any amendments made during prosecution to the translation. You do not need to make a full translation, since you already have a translation that covers most or possible all of the text.

If you had chosen French or German you cannot reuse the original translation. In that case, the second translation has to be into English. So a second full translation is needed.

If costs are a factor, and you do not want to risk a machine translation for your second translation, it appears you are somewhat better off in selecting English as the language of proceedings.

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