There has recently been a landmark agreement (the London Agreement) to limit the cost burden of translating granted European patents.
At present, granted European patents must be translated into an official language of every country in which they are intended to become legally effective. If a translation is not filed in a particular country, then the patent is not legally effective there. Companies seeking substantial territorial coverage in Europe have therefore been required to meet heavy translation costs in Europe.
The London Agreement will relax the translation requirements for European patents which are formally granted after it enters force, and thereby considerably reduce the cost burden associated with preparing and filing translations in Europe. It is widely envisaged that the agreement will enter force in the first or second quarter of 2008. Accordingly, patent applicants receiving notices of allowance (EPO communication under Rule 51(4)) should consider delaying acceptance of the text for grant in the hope that the London Agreement enters force before formal grant so that the applicant can benefit from material cost savings on the translations.
There are no guarantees that the London Agreement will enter force in time to reduce the costs associated with applications being allowed now. However, it is believed there is merit in speculatively delaying grant for most applications.