Thursday, 19 December 2013

Select Committee discusses compensation scheme for translation costs

At the Epo website there is a short report of the last meeting of the Select Committee on 10 and 11 December 2013.  At the EPO the select committee sets the rules of procedure for handling the unitary patent.

One of the discussed items is the compensation scheme for costs for translations. This scheme is introduced by article 5 of regulation 1260/2012. I can imagine that some if its provisions will cause the EPO some work to implement right.

First of all, to me it is not clear which translation costs can be reimbursed. On the one hand, the article promises compensation for all translation costs up to a ceiling, but on the other hand the article gives as reason the fact that European patent applications may be filed in any language. Clearly, translation costs associated with the filing are covered, but it leaves open the question, what it means for translation costs arising throughout the procedure, e.g., to translate letters or evidence, to translate claims during grant, etc. Are these costs also covered? And will the ceiling be?

Second, the preamble of the regulation restricts the compensation to applicants obtaining European patents with unitary effect. (The article itself does not contain this condition.) Whether or not an applicant will obtain unitary effect or not is not known to applicants. You cannot obtain unitary effect until after publication of the grant, i.e., when you are a proprietor. Does this mean that you cannot get a reimbursement if your application is refused?

I wonder how the EPO is going to manage this. Do I need to file receipts with EPO throughout the lifetime of the application, and get a reimbursement at grant?

Finally, the scheme is restricted to certain applicants: SMEs, natural persons, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State. Will this just be a box to tick in the application form,  or will the applicant have to prove that he is an SME?

All in all, I can image that this poses some questions to the select committee. Unfortunately, minutes of the meeting are not available, so we will have to wait and see, how EPO will resolve this.

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