London Agreement (2000)

London Agreement (2000)

The London Agreement, formally the Agreement on the application of Article 65 of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents and sometimes referred to as the London Protocol, is a patent law agreement concluded in London on 17 October 2000 and aimed at reducing the translation costs of European patents granted under the European Patent Convention (EPC).European Patent Office (EPO) web site, [ "London Agreement to enter into force in first half of 2008"] , News, 11 September 2007.] The London Agreement is an optional agreement between member states of the European Patent Organisation.

The London Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2008.Cite web
title=London Agreement: Key points
publisher=European Patent Office


Before 1 May 2008, once a European patent was granted or more precisely within three months (or six months for Ireland) from the date of grant, the patent had to be translated into an official language of each country in which the patentee wanted patent protection. If the translation of the European patent was not provided to the national patent office within the prescribed time limit, the patent was "deemed to be void ab initio in that State." [EPC Article|65] This situation still applies in the Contracting States wherein the Agreement has not entered into force.

This situation led to high translation costs for patent holders, reduced the incentives to apply for a European patent and, many argued, the situation was a burden on the competitiveness of the European economy, compared to the situation in the United States (see also EU's Lisbon Strategy).


The agreement provides that Contracting States which have an official language in common with an official language of the European Patent Office, i.e. English, French or German, no longer require translation of European patents into one of their official languages. Other contracting states have to choose one of the official languages of the EPO as a "prescribed language", in which European patents have to be translated in order to enter into force in their country. They however keep the right to require translation of the claims in one of their official languages.

In addition, a Contracting State to the Agreement also keeps the right to require that, in case of a dispute relating to a European patent, a translation should be provided by the patentee in one of the official languages of the state.


The London Agreement entered into force on 1 May 2008 in 14 countries. The implementation is as follows: [ "The London Agreement has entered into force"] , Swedish Patent and Registration Office, 7 May 2008. Consulted on 13 May 2008. ]

The Agreement applies to European patents granted on or after 1 May 2008. The new language regime however already applied for Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom to European patents granted on or after February 1, 2008. Germany had some trouble with the implementation of the London Agreement. The original implementation bill was flawed due to miscalculations of the date of entry into force of the new translation requirements for European patents designating Germany. [ Axel H Horns, [ "London Agreement and IPRED-1 in the German Parliament"] , BLOG@IP::JUR, 14 April 2008. Consulted on 1 May 2008.] A new implementation bill was then published on 11 July 2008. The old translation requirements are no longer applicable in Germany retroactively as of 1 May 2008. [de icon Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA), [ "Londoner Übereinkommen - Aktualisierter Hinweis zur Umsetzung des Londoner Übereinkommens im nationalen Recht"] , 17 July 2008. Consulted on 26 July 2008. See also actual implementation bill: de icon [ "Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Durchsetzung von Rechten des geistigen Eigentums"] , Bundesgesetzblatt BGBl I p. 1191 of 11 July 2008 (pdf). ]


The Agreement resulted from a process started at the Paris Conference on 24-25 June 1999, an intergovernmental conference of the member states of the European Patent Organisation held in Paris at the invitation of the French government. European Patent Office, [ "Intergovernmental conference of the member states of the European Patent Organisation on the reform of the patent system in Europe, Paris, 24 and 25 June 1999"] , OJ EPO 8–9/1999, pp. 545-553. ] The conference adopted a mandate setting up two working parties with the task of submitting reports to the governments of the contracting states on reducing the cost of European patents and harmonising patent litigation. The first working party eventually led to the London Agreement while the second led to the proposed European Patent Litigation Agreement. More precisely, the first working party was instructed to draft an "optional protocol to the EPC, under which its signatory states undertake not to require the translation of the description of the European patent, provided that it is available in English... [or alternatively] provided that it is available in one of the official EPO languages as designated by each signatory state". The name "London Protocol" is sometimes used to refer to the London Agreement, because the initial mandate mentioned a Protocol, rather than an Agreement. [ Similarly, the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) was called "European Patent Litigation Protocol" before being renamed "European Patent Litigation Agreement" for reasons of international law. Source: Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, [ "European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA)"] , 18 November 2002. Retrieved on 11 July 2006. ]

The Agreement was then adopted at the London Conference of 2000, followed by a seven-year ratification process. On 18 April 2007, at the European Patent Forum in Munich, Germany, Angela Merkel said that she and German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries would fight to see the London Agreement realised.EPO web site, [ "Patents are the future"] . Consulted on 20 April 2007.] She called the London Agreement "an important step in the right direction".

(accession is also taken into account for the entry into force of the agreement). Sweden ratified on 29 April 2008.Cite web
title=London Agreement: Status
publisher=European Patent Office

Since France deposited its instruments of ratification on 29 January 2008, the agreement entered into force on 1 May 2008.

The ratification of the London Agreement by France, which for some time was the last missing step for the Agreement to enter into force, followed a number of steps, including the recommendation in May 2006 by the French National Assembly and the French Senate to adopt the Agreement, [ [ "Future patent policy in Europe, Public hearing"] , Consultation on future patent policy in Europe – preliminary findings, 12 July 2006, page 13.] the approval by the French Constitutional Council, ["La compatibilité de cet accord avec la Constitution a été confirmée par une décision du Conseil constitutionnel du 28 septembre 2006 (décision n° 2006-541 DC)." in fr icon Assemblée Nationale, [ "Projet de Loi autorisant la ratification de l’accord sur l’application de l’article 65 de la convention sur la délivrance de brevets européens,"] , 24 August 2007, page 4.] the announcement in August 2007 by the new Prime Minister François Fillon that the London Agreement would soon be ratified, [ fr icon "Dans les prochains jours, nous annoncerons une réforme radicale du crédit impôt recherche pour que 100 % des dépenses de recherche soient prises en compte. Parallèlement, on va (...) ratifier l'accord de Londres sur les brevets." in [,1-0,36-946090,0.html "François Fillon ne veut "aucune mesure de durcissement du crédit"] , "Le Monde", August 21, 2007.] the approval by the French Council of Ministers,fr icon "Le projet de ratification du protocole de Londres sur les brevets européens a été approuvé vendredi par le Conseil des ministres..." and "En attendant, le gouvernement doit préciser la date à laquelle il soumettra le texte au vote du Parlement. Une fois voté, il sera alors officiellement ratifié par la France et le protocole de Londres entrera en vigueur." in Frank Niedercorn, [ "Les industriels saluent la volonté du gouvernement de ratifier l'accord de Londres"] , "Les Echos", 27 August 2007.] and eventually the adoption by the National Assembly and the Senate of the ratification act on 26 September 2007 and on 9 October 2007 respectively. [ fr icon Assemblée Nationale, [ "Projet de Loi autorisant la ratification de l’accord sur l’application de l’article 65 de la convention sur la délivrance de brevets européens"] , 24 August 2007. ] [ EPO web site, [ "French Assemblée nationale votes on the London Agreement"] , 27 September 2007.] [fr icon French Senate web site, [ "Projet de loi autorisant la ratification de l’accord sur l’application de l’article 65 de la convention sur la délivrance de brevets européens"] , Consulted on 10 October 2007.] [fr icon EPO web site, [ "L'Accord de Londres approuvé par le Parlement français"] , 10 October 2007.]

References and notes

External links

* [ London Agreement] on the European Patent Office website
* [ London Agreement] on the UK Intellectual Property Office web site
* [ The London Agreement. UK Patent Office Consultation.] (pdf) drafted by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA)
* [ London Agreement] at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property

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