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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Est-ce que c'est vrai?

The IPKat wonders whether it could possibly be true that, according to reports, France is just about to ratify the London agreement, perhaps even in the next few days. In an interview with Le Monde, the French prime minister Francois Fillon (right: doing some long-awaited signing) said:

"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 créer le statut de "jeune entreprise universitaire", fusionner [les agences d'aides aux entreprises] Oseo et A2I, et, enfin, ratifier l'accord de Londres sur les brevets".
It seems almost like a throwaway line, but perhaps that's just the French way. This Kat looks forward to the long-awaited day when applicants will finally be able to get a European patent with decent coverage without the need to spend huge amounts of money on translations.

More French rapprochement here, here and here.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much the other "Kats" (e.g. xenoglossophobe Jeremy) look forward to the existence of UK patents with a specification available only in a foreign language.

Nicolas Jondet said...

C'est vrai, semble-t-il.
The decision to ratify the London Protocol was first announced on 11 July by the Ministry of Education. The French National Council of the Bars (in JurisClasseur ), the French Institute of Patent and Trademark Attorneys and members of the ruling coalition (in Le Monde ) voiced their opposition to the project. But President Sarkozy, a former lawyer himself, seems to have decided to go forward with the ratification anyway.

Philip Eagle said...

"This Kat looks forward to the long-awaited day when applicants will finally be able to get a European patent with decent coverage without the need to spend huge amounts of money on translations."

What about the day when applicants who wish to do an effective novelty search, or people who wish to know whether their activities are infringing an EPO patent valid in the UK, are unable to do so without going to the trouble and expense of getting complex legal documents translated into English?

David said...

Good point, but claims will always be available in the 3 official languages (Rule 51(4)), and the international classification system and abstracts are there to help us find which documents are relevant. If a particular document looks relevant, a translation can be done at that point. In my view, it is not worth having all applications translated in full, at great cost, for the benefit gained by the small number that are of importance elsewhere. I thought this argument was done and dusted long ago. Otherwise the London Agreement wouldn't have got off the ground at all.

Besides, machine translations are getting quite good, and we should in any case all be aiming to be proficient in at least one other language, as our fellow Europeans keep telling us.

And what about the vast amount of prior art in Sanskrit misfiled in the childrens' section of the Alice Springs library? Is this any less prior art than a patent available only in German?

Anonymous said...

Let's suppose France ratifies.

The London agreement will enter into force in the countries that have already ratified. The agreement applies to all patents, whether or not the country of origin did ratify or not.

And then ? What would the 18 EU countries who did not sign the agreement do ? This includes Italy, Spain, Finland, Poland, Austria, Ireland, The Czech republic, Hungary and others...

They would have no reason to sign, I guess... Their residents would benefit from the agreement, and only tranlated patents will be valid on their territories.

This means that France would thus be the last country to ratify. Translations in Italian, Spanish, English and German (for Austria) will still be needed !

This means that the amount of money spared thanks to the agreement will be very low !!

Frankly speaking, the good way to reduce the cost of the European patent is not to spare on translations but on annual fees !! But of course, the EPO does not favor that solution...

Anonymous said...

But the EPO doesn't dictate the renewal fees after grant - that's the national offices who then keep ca. 50% and give the rest to the EPO. And don't forget that the search and examination fees don't cover their actual costs - if renewal fees are cut, then search fees have to rise.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, (imagine an Aussie accent at this point, folks)

I've sid it before and ah'll say it agin. Stop talking about mar library, and in particular the children's section. We do not handle books in Sanskrit - giddit !

We only deal in books written in Oz, ie a version of English with lots of swearing.

Yours ever

Mr Walt Zing Matilda
Alice Springs Library
Australia

Philip Eagle said...

Sorry, I hadn't heard that English claims would still be available.

Do you know how these will be distributed? Espacenet, European Patent Server, delivery to the British Library, on application only?

David said...

European granted patents are nowadays published online. The 'B' specs, which include claims in all three official languages are available from the EPO publications server.

Anonymous said...

Here's the rub people -and it's a big one! At present every EP application's translated once by the applicant, at their cost. Ideal. In the future? It's likely that, in fact, the total amount of translation'll go UP, not down. Why? Because the HUGE amount of activity around post-grant watching, scrutiny, searching, contentious/litigious work will mean anyone and EVERYone wanting to see another applicant's EP will have to pay for large chunks of it to be translated. We're then going to have multiple translations of the same document; and you can bet they'll all be different! How ironic: a mechanism designed to cheapen the spend on obtaining IPR is likely to result in the total spend on that part of IP budgets spent on translations INcreasing not decreasing. And, even if in the short-term, the average cost of getting the average EP falls, does anyone really expect the big filers - the IP Corporate Departments - the return part of the IP budgets to their CFOs? Eh, I think not. What'll happen is they'll file more. This'll compound THE major problem in the system, i.e. the time it takes to prosecute applications. You can bet the EPO hasn't pre-empted and is training up lots of new Examiners! And so - crystal ball moment - the average EP's going to take longer to get, cost less on average, but be applied by corporates who then demand more cash from their Finance Departments to pay for the post-grant IP monitoring that, in future, will involve MORE translation. Sigh.

other David said...

Can anybody give me a single sound reason why Italy, Spain or Poland would sign the London Agreement ?

If I don't get an answer, that definitively means that these countries (and others like Austria Ireland Finland...) will not sign the London agreeemnt.

Thus, full translations of all European Patent will be done into English, German (for Austria), Italian and Spanish (and portuguese, finnish etc...).

I am definitively waiting for your comments on that issue (including those of the Kats)

other david said...

Hello again

in reply to
"if renewal fees are cut, then search fees have to rise",

this is definitively untrue !!

This is just a question of political willing. If leaders want to promote multilinguism they can find the little amount of money for translations, of course. If they don't care because patents are not sexy enough to get reelected, of course they will tell you that cutting annual fees is not possible. But of course it is.

Anyway, it is public knowledge that the EPO is very badly managed and that its productivity is well below that of the UKIPO or DPMA.

Mike said...

@other david: I suspect the reason that these countries will sign up is to keep up with those that have signed already. With the LA, suddenly countries like Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands look like an attractive option for EPs prosecuted in English. Furthermore, prosecution in English becomes increasingly worthwhile - not only does it tie in with US and other international cases, it will also simplify national phase validation from the EP.

For the same reasons, I think that we will see fewer applicants bothering to go to the expense of German-language translations for the likes of Austria, unless it happens to be a key market. As a result, the renewal fees paid to Austria will go down, and those paid to the Netherlands will go up!

Luke Ueda-Sarson said...

A minor point, but David was IMO not at all correct in stating "machine translations are getting quite good". They are getting better, it is true, but we are talking about a very low starting position to get better from.

I will concede that machine translations from commonly used European languages into closely related ones are no longer atrocious, and merely poor, but they can hardly be described as good. And as for more distantly related languages - nah.

Of course, if you want a real laugh, try a machine translation from Japanese into English or vice versa - which of course is the primary translation task that needs doing in the patent world at large, and has had an awful lot of resources expended on it. Nobody (that I know, anyway) in the J<->E patent translation business uses a machine at any stage of the process. People have given the various programmes over the years a go, but always go back to doiing evrything themselves sooner or later. The results just aren't worth it, and are unlikely to be for many years to come.


Cheers, Luke

Anonymous said...

1. "This means that France would thus be the last country to ratify. Translations in Italian, Spanish, English and German (for Austria) will still be needed !"

"Can anybody give me a single sound reason why Italy, Spain or Poland would sign the London Agreement ? If I don't get an answer, that definitively means that these countries (and others like Austria Ireland Finland...) will not sign the London agreeemnt."

Clearly the authors of these two comments have not actually READ the london agreement. Read it and learn.

And just because someone does not answer your question does not then "definitively mean" that something will happen!


2. "Here's the rub people -and it's a big one! At present every EP application's translated once by the applicant, at their cost. Ideal. In the future? It's likely that, in fact, the total amount of translation'll go UP, not down. Why? Because the HUGE amount of activity around post-grant watching, scrutiny, searching, contentious/litigious work will mean anyone and EVERYone wanting to see another applicant's EP will have to pay for large chunks of it to be translated"

This comment betrays utter ignorance of the relative proportions of both EPO patent languages and EU businesses, and also of the universal nature of english as a business language, and also of the london agreement.

other David said...

Hello again !

in reply to "Clearly the authors of these two comments have not actually READ the london agreement. Read it and learn."

Hi ! I wrote these two comments, and I know the London agreement by heart. Indeed, I thank you for showing that you managed to answer me without giving a sound reason for why should Italy, Spain or Poland (who have national languages spoken by tens of millions of people) should sign the London agreement. This shows that you do not have any sound reason. If you had had a reason, you would have writen it in a post. But you have not.

in reply to "This comment betrays utter ignorance of the relative proportions of both EPO patent languages and EU businesses, and also of the universal nature of english as a business language, and also of the london agreement."

I am not the writter of the comment you are mentionning. But I thank you for showing how you take an arrogant attitude ! This is cool for me and counterproductive for you ! Thank you mister arrogant !

Anonymous said...

With the ratification of the London Protocol by France an important step will be reached - the Protocol will enter into force at last.

Whether other large countries with a lot of EP designations (Italy, Spain, etc) will follow depends also on the progress of patent policy discussion within the EU institutions.

It's correct that because the London Protocol lacks reciprocity provisions, there is no strong economic incentive for other countries to join it.

But don't forget that Italy and Spain and other countries who don't seem to be willing to ratify the London Protocol were ready to abandon the translation of patents into their national language as part of the March 2003 Council agreement on the Community patent (which did not make it into legislation for other reasons). So translations are negociable and no longer a matter of principle.

It needs the right patent policy package negociated in the EU Council for other countries to join the London Protocol.

Filemot said...

For those (like me) who don't know the London Agreement by heart, I have put my notes on the practical implications here
http://www.filemot.com/LondonAgreement.htm.
Personally I have nothing but praise for the new French government and the sterling work put in by the recently retired EPO President for whom this was a major work of persuasion.
I also use Japanese machine translations. Just ask the UK-IPO how many of the English translations of EP patents granted in French and Germnan have been purchased from them. I dont think you will find its a lot.

Duncan said...

Hey Mr Walt Zing Matilda - that's a NZ accent... "I've sid it before"

and Barbara - your practical impact guide is great.

cheers
Duncan

Tufty said...

It looks like the French government is going to do it. See news from the EPO here.

Philippe Ocvirk said...

Well, the bill approving the london protocol will be presented before the French Parliament on Wednesday September 26.

It seems that the Governement has decided to "show the way"!

The Londong Protocol is a badly designed treaty.

But it'll probably be ratified.

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