EP Validation is the process of converting a single granted European Patent Application into a national patent in one or more of the 41 European Patent Organisation member, extension and validation states.
The validation process typically involves high quality, technically-qualified translation of all or part of the patent, the payment of fees and the filing of documents within a certain timeframe - usually three months from the European Grant Date.
The actual requirements vary between countries. The regulations defining these requirements can be straightforward, or in some cases more complicated, sometimes depending on unusual factors such as changing regulations in respect of the original application date, the language of proceedings, or even whether certain parts of the patent have references to other sections.
The European Patent Convention, however, means that the national patents cannot be rejected and will be considered to have been in force from the European Grant Date, so long as all requirements and deadlines are met, and any annuity (renewal) requirements have been satisfied.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein are, for the purposes of validation, usually considered to be one state due to the bilateral agreement meaning any patent granted in Switzerland is also considered to be valid in Liechtenstein.
Countries which have ratified or acceded to the London Agreement (London Protocol / Article 65), agree to a simplification of the translation requirements for the conversion of a granted European Patent to a National Patent. The way this simplification is applied is different depending on the official language(s) of the country in question. There are two groups:
Therefore each of these countries agrees that no translations are necessary, regardless of whether the patent is published in English, French or German. The practical result is that any granted European Patent is automatically and instantly considered to be a national patent in each of these territories, without any action whatsoever. It is recommended good practice, however, to register a local Service Address in each territory of interest, which IP Centrum offers through our agent network.
Therefore each of these countries is required to nominate one of the three EPO languages (currently all nominate English), into which the translation of the description is necessary in the event that the patent is published in one of the other two EPO languages. In addition, these countries have the right to require translation of the claims into one of their official languages.
Of these territories, however, the following countries have elected to remove the requirement for a translation of the description, requiring translation of only the Claims into their official languages.
Over time, since its initial signing in 1973, the European Patent Convention has gained new contracting member states. In some cases, countries have agreed an intention to join the EPC at a future point, but until then agree to conform to EPC regulations, as an Extension State.
|AL Albania||1 February 1996||30 April 2010|
|HR Croatia||1 April 2004||31 December 2007|
|LV Latvia||1 May 1995||30 June 2005|
|LT Lithuania||5 July 1994||30 November 2004|
|MK Macedonia||1 November 1997||31 December 2008|
|RO Romania||15 October 1996||28 February 2003|
|RS Serbia||1 November 2004||30 September 2010|
|SI Slovenia||1 March 1994||30 November 2002|
Since 2010, certain non-member, and non-extension states have signed agreements with the European Patent Organisation to allow granted European Patent Applications to be validated in their territory. These are termed Validation States. In order for a granted European Patent Application to be eligible for validation in a Validation State, the application must have been filed on or after the date the agreement in that state came into force, and the Validation State must be designated.
The deadline for validation varies from country to country, but typically there is a three month deadline from the European Grant Date, within which the country's national phase validation requirements must be satisfied. In some cases an extension to this deadline is possible, sometimes only under specific conditions. This usually involves an additional fee.
Most countries require that the validation filing agent has obtained proper Power Of Attorney from the applicant in respect of the necessary formalities for the given patent in the given country. Some countries allow for general Powers of Attorneys, which permits the attorney to act on behalf of an applicant in respect of all of their patents. In some cases, the signed Power Of Attorney document must accompany the validation filing, and in others this is not necessary or can be filed at a later date, or simply retained on file for future reference.
A large part of the cost of validation relates to the production of translations - and for good reason. Regulations vary between countries as to the importance of the accuracy of translations. In some cases the original text is reverted to under litigation or infringement claims, but in others this is not the case, or at least there are interpretations that third party rights may accrue during the period that an inaccurate translation is in force.
It is of extreme importance that all translations are carried out by people who are native to the destination language, who are degree or similar educated, and ideally in the subject of the patent.
Traditionally, the process was handled by engaging with associated, partnered or otherwise selected Foreign Agents, in the desired countries, and then dealt with each country's agent on an individual basis, organising Powers Of Attorneys, and allowing the expert with intricate knowledge of the individual country's regulations to handle any requirements.
IP Centrum has changed this, unrecognisably improving the entire process from start to finish, especially designed to support IP Formalities professionals.
EP Validation: it's better now ...
IP Centrum's team are specialists in European Patent Validation, which means there is a significantly reduced risk of misunderstanding, unexpected costs, or of course the unthinkable risk of accidental loss of a patent due to the complex and constantly changing regulations around Europe.
Validation is a significant part of the cost of a European Patent lifecycle, especially if many countries are required. Filing tens of thousands of validations per year, and translating millions of words into every language, means that IP Centrum's buying power is enormous. We provide user-friendly and extremely efficient processes to our agents and suppliers which further reduce their costs, and all of this means we are able to pass on these savings to our customers.
The simple act of providing an estimate to clients for a potential EP Validation process could take a patent attorney days. IP Centrum's advanced technology means this can now be achieved in a matter of seconds. Patent Attorneys no longer have to instruct, manage, chase and liaise with individual agents around Europe. Instead they click one button, view their live progress through IP Centrum's state-of-the-art web-based monitoring system, and pay a single invoice - reducing the time spent from days or weeks, down to minutes.
Many patent attorneys are uncomfortable providing their competitors with access to their client list. IP Centrum is entirely independent, and is not associated, or partnered with any Patent Attorney, or IP firm. We think this is important.
Sally was one of the first. It was bold and - even she admits - scary. But the cumulative value HGF has delivered to its clients and partners over the years are a direct result of that early foresight.
Anne gets it. In IP formalities, anything less than 100% means failure. She believes Tata Steel's IP deserves perfection, which is why Anne puts in place solutions before normal people even recognise a potential problem.
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