Translation Requirements for Validation of European Patents
A patent that has been granted by the European Patent Office may subsequently be made effective in any of the countries for which a designation, extension or validation fee has been paid. This process is commonly known as “validation” of the European patent.
For European patents with a grant date on or after 1 June 2023, it will in most cases1 be possible to validate a European patent via one of two routes:
- Direct national validation in any of the countries of interest (i.e. up to 43 separate countries in total); or
- Validation as a “Unitary Patent” (a single patent right covering 17 of the 27 EU countries2), in addition to direct national validation in any of the remaining non-EU countries and non-participating EU countries of interest.
More information about the Unitary Patent system can be found in the dedicated section of our website.
Direct national validation
For direct national validation of a European patent, some countries impose translation requirements as part of the validation procedure. In general, any required translations must be submitted within three months of the grant date of the patent. The translation requirements vary significantly between the different countries. The majority of European patents are in English, and for such patents, the following requirements apply:
- Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Switzerland, Tunisia and the United Kingdom have no post-grant translation requirements.
- Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Sweden and Slovenia require a translation of the claims of the patent (but not the entire specification) in the appointed language to be filed.
- Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey require a translation of the entire specification in the appointed language to be filed. This includes a translation of the sequence listing, if one is present.
The attached annex sets out the requirements for each country, including the appointed language where relevant. As is evident from the annex, in some countries it is possible to re-use a translation prepared for another country with the same appointed language. For example, a Greek translation can be used in both Greece and Cyprus, an Italian translation can be used in both Italy and San Marino, a Croatian translation can be used in both Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, a Serbian translation can be used in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and a Romanian translation can be used in both Romania and Moldova.
In some countries, the translation that is filed is regarded as the authentic text for determining infringement by a third party, in the event that the text of the translation of the patent that is filed is narrower in scope than the text of the patent in the language of proceedings before the EPO. It is therefore important to use high-quality translations when filing national validation requests.
One requirement of validation as a Unitary Patent is that a translation of the full text of the patent into one other language must be submitted within one month of the grant date. For the majority of European patents that are in English, the translation may be into any other official EU language. However, if the language of the European patent is French or German, the translation must be into English.
The requirement for the translation to be in “any” EU language, i.e. not necessarily the official language of an EU country that is actually participating in the Unitary Patent system, can be strategically useful to applicants. In particular, an applicant may use a single translation both for (a) validation as a Unitary Patent and (b) national validation in a country that is not participating in the Unitary Patent system but which requires translation of the full text of the patent into a language that is also an EU language. For example, an applicant may use a single Spanish translation of the patent both for validation as a Unitary Patent and for direct national validation in Spain, or a single Polish translation of the patent both for validation as a Unitary Patent and for direct national validation in Poland.
The translation filed to obtain a Unitary Patent will be for information purposes only (i.e. it will not have a legally binding effect), but should not be a machine translation.
Cost-effective European patent validations
J A Kemp provides a top-quality translation service and integrates it seamlessly with the validation provision. We can provide a quote for completing the validation in each country which includes the cost of translation together with the cost of performing the validation acts and official fees, so there are no unknown disbursement charges for clients to pay. For more information about J A Kemp’s validation service, please see this section of our website, or contact your usual J A Kemp advisor.
Annex – translation requirements for direct national validation of European patents in English
|Country code||Country||Translation requirement|
|AL||Albania||Claims only into Albanian|
|AT||Austria||Full text into German|
|BA||Bosnia & Herzegovina||Claims only into Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian|
|BE||Belgium||No translation needed|
|BG||Bulgaria||Full text into Bulgarian|
|CH/LI||Switzerland/Liechtenstein||No translation needed|
|CY||Cyprus||Full text into Greek|
|CZ||Czech Republic||Full text into Czech|
|DE||Germany||No translation needed|
|DK||Denmark||Claims only into Danish|
|EE||Estonia||Full text into Estonian|
|ES||Spain||Full text into Spanish|
|FI||Finland||Claims only into Finnish|
|FR||France||No translation needed|
|GB||United Kingdom||No translation needed|
|GR||Greece||Full text into Greek|
|HR||Croatia||Claims only into Croatian|
|HU||Hungary||Claims only into Hungarian|
|IE||Ireland||No translation needed|
|IS||Iceland||Claims only into Icelandic|
|IT||Italy||Full text into Italian|
|KH||Cambodia||Claims only into Khmer|
|LT||Lithuania||Claims only into Lithuanian|
|LU||Luxembourg||No translation needed|
|LV||Latvia||Claims only into Latvian|
|MA||Morocco||No translation needed3|
|MC||Monaco||No translation needed|
|MD||Moldova||Full text into Romanian|
|ME||Montenegro||Claims only into Montenegrin4|
|MK||North Macedonia||Claims only into Macedonian|
|MT||Malta||No translation needed|
|NL||Netherlands||Claims only into Dutch|
|NO||Norway||Claims only into Norwegian|
|PL||Poland||Full text into Polish|
|PT||Portugal||Full text into Portuguese|
|RO||Romania||Full text into Romanian|
|RS||Serbia||Full text into Serbian|
|SE||Sweden||Claims only into Swedish|
|SI||Slovenia||Claims only into Slovene|
|SK||Slovakia||Full text into Slovak|
|SM||San Marino||Full text into Italian|
|TN||Tunisia||No translation needed|
|TR||Turkey||Full text into Turkish|
- Certain restrictions apply to validation as a Unitary Patent. In particular, in order to be eligible for a Unitary Patent, the patent must have a filing date of 1 March 2007 or later (this being the date when the last participating country, Malta, joined the EPC), the patent must designate all of the countries which have indicated that they will take part in the Unitary Patent system, and the patent must have the same claims for all such countries.
- The 17 countries that currently participate in the Unitary Patent system are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
- For validation in Morocco, it is necessary to file a translation of the claims only into French or Arabic. However, a French translation of the claims will already have been prepared in order to file a response to the communication under Rule 71(3) EPC at the EPO. Thus, in practice, there are no further post-grant translation requirements in Morocco.
- Although Montenegrin and Serbian are officially different languages, there has not yet been any significant divergence since Montenegro gained independence from Serbia. A Serbian translation of the claims can therefore be used in Montenegro (as well as in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina).