More and more businesses today are looking to expand their trade to European countries. However, the high costs associated with doing so have made business owners somewhat reluctant to take on Europe. This mindset looks set to shift this year, as a significant change in the cost structure for European patents will be introduced, bringing with it some good and some not-so-good news.
The “London Agreement” that came into force on May 1st 2008 brought with it a favourable change, causing a number of European countries to no longer require a translation of patents or only require a translation of the claims. This means that Germany and France, for example, will no longer require translations at all, whereas countries such as the Netherlands will only require a translation of the claims of the patent.
Those interested in obtaining patents will therefore be spared the high costs relating to the translation of European patents, gaining significant savings in costs due to:
- No publication fees for translations
- Reduced patent attorney fees
The London Agreement thus looks to be a major step towards a cheaper European patent.
Also in effect beginning April 1st 2008 is a new EPO official fee regime, strongly encouraging applications with not more than 15 claims and shorter descriptions, as well as designation of more European countries.
On a less pleasing note, payments for annuities before the EPO will be subjected to an increase from April 1st 2008. Furthermore, the fine for late payment of an annuity will increase from 10% to 50% of the overdue annuity.
Nevertheless, if you have ever wanted to give your business a competitive edge in Europe, now is the time to do it. Take advantage of the lowered costs to protect your business, and start reaping your rewards now.