Thursday, 13 June 2013

More translations needed for a unitary patent?

In my last post I noted that the unitary patent requires fewer translations than regular European validations. During the transitory period, this may not be true.

Consider the following example. You have a granted European patent application with an English text.  The patent has 20 pages of specification and 2 more pages of claims. You only need patent protection in France, German, and the United Kingdom.  You are still in the transitory period.

Without a unitary patent, you do not require any further translation than already imposed by the EPO. This is a result of the London Agreement. This means that when your application gets to grant you need to translate the claims into two official languages. In total you need 2+2=4 pages of translation.

If you decide to obtain protection in these three countries through a unitary patent you need to provide a full translation of the patent as well.  You still need to translate 4 pages for the claims, but in addition 22 pages for a full translation in another EU language are needed. In total you need 22+2+2=26 of translation.

Going through the unitary patent route instead of the conventional route gives a more than 6 fold increase in translation requirements.

Even if you extend the number of countries in which you wish protection with say, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, the regular system still requires fewer translations. To validate in these countries, I need only translate the claims, so the score becomes, 26 pages for unitary versus 10 pages for conventional European patent.

To be fair, there are many European countries that would require a full translation in this example under the old system but will not for in the unitary system, say Portugal, Belgium, or Austria. So adding these countries to the list would swing the advantage to the unitary patent.

Validation only in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands are not uncommon. For such a limited list of countries the short term validation costs increase significantly. This may impact the decision to go for unitary effect or not. 

Note, that this doesn't take into account other cost factors, in particular renewal fees. Moreover, the additional translation imposed by the transitory period has no legal effect, so some may be tempted to skimp on its quality.

1 comment:

  1. Still, the cost of translating a patent description is relatively nothing when compared with all the other fees involved- if the decision of whether or not to pay for one translation is going to swing an applicant's decision, perhaps they had better rethink whether or not they have the means to file an application in the first place.