If for once the French want to speak English...

... the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) does not allow them to. On 16 February, the EBA announced its decision in the case G 04/08 (language of the proceedings). The facts were as follows: the applicant Merial had filed an international application in French, which was published in French, and for which the EPO was the designated Office. Upon entry into the regional phase before the EPO, the applicant attached an English translation of the application to the request and asked that the language of the proceedings before the EPO be English.

The EBO decided that it is not possible to file a translation of the application into another one of the EPC's official languages upon entry into the regional phase before the EPO if an international application has been published in one of the EPC's official languages.

The EPO could also not - upon request of the applicant and after consultation with other interested parties - change by itself the language of the proceedings to another official language than the one the international application had been published in (art. 14(3) EPC). Rule 3(1), which had allowed this, had been deleted in 1991 and could not be re-introduced through case-law.
If for once the French want to speak English... If for once the French want to speak English... Reviewed by Mark Schweizer on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. I am afraid that the Kat has overlooked something: if a French party wants to SPEAK English during oral proceedings, this is still perfectly possible, see Rule 4(1) EPC: "Any party to oral proceedings before the European Patent Office may use an official language of the European Patent Office other than the language of the proceedings, if such party gives notice to the European Patent Office at least one month before the date of such oral proceedings or provides for interpretation into the language of the proceedings. ..."
    In fact, in the present EBA case, during oral proceedings before the EBA, the applicant has used English.

    Also, in written proceedings, a French party can still write its letters in English, see Rule 3(1) EPC: "In written proceedings before the European Patent Office, any party may use any official language of the European Patent Office. ..."

    The EBA has only said that if an application has been filed in French, the EPO is obliged to use French, and cannot even use English if all parties agree, and the applicant/patentee has to use French for amendments (see Rule 3(2) EPC), as it is not possible to file an English translation and to work on the basis of that translation.

  2. Probably the EBA didn't want to hear something like:

    "Ze probléme-soluzión approch .."


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