Chapter 1. Filing an application
Section 1.1. Principle
Since the entry into force of the EPC 2000, there are no language requirements for filing (ie obtaining a filing date).
If the application is filed in an official language, there is nothing to be done and this official language becomes the language of the proceedings
If the application is not filed in an official language (A14 (2) EPC), it is necessary to produce a translation into one of the official languages 2 months (R6 (1) EPC). The language of this translation becomes the language of the proceedings.
Attention: the provisions of theA14 (4) EPC does not apply to the filing of an application (so the deadline is 2 months to deliver the translation), even if the tax reduction of the R6 (3) EPC is open for depositors:
- having their domicile (or registered office) in one of the Contracting States (or if it is the national of one of those States having its domicile abroad),
- that country to an official language other than German, English or French,
- who files their application in one of these languages (or makes a reference to an earlier application in one of these languages).
Section 1.2. Filing in multiple languages
In the decision T382 / 94, the Board of Appeal stated that if the annotations of the drawings were in a language different from that of the description, this did not affect the filing date (the claims and the description were filed in German, but the drawings included a text in English).
What if part of the description or if a claim is in a language different from the rest of the description?
European patent applications are filed in a of these languages
Today, the wording is different (A14 CBE), but we can find similarities:
Any European patent application must be filed in a official languages or, if filed in a other language, translated into one of the official languages, in accordance with the Regulations.
I think that the position of the EPO would be the same: the principle of the uniqueness of the language of European patent applications would be the rule.
However, nothing is certain: for example, some assume that if the claims are in a different language, this is not a problem (the claims are not an obligation to obtain a filing date).
Chapter 2. Written procedure before the EPO
Section 2.1. Rule
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for the plaintiff, the opponent, etc. to use any official language EPO (R3 (1) EPC and Directives A-VII 2) to respond to notifications, to file any part, etc. (except for parts relating to changes in the application, Directives A-VII 1.2).
In reality, only the EPO is bound by the language of the procedure (Directives A-VII 1.2).
Section 2.2. Derogation from the A14 (4)
If a person has his domicile (or head office) in one of the Contracting States (or if he is the national of one of those States whose domicile is abroad) and that person has an official language other than German, English or French, it may drop any part to be produced within a specified period in this language (A14 (4) EPC).
When we talk about "a person" in the previous paragraph, we ignore the proxy (T145 / 85).
This language is not necessarily the language of filing.
A translation must be submitted (A14 (4) EPC) at the earliest simultaneously with the untranslated piece (decision G6 / 91) and within a 1 month from the date of delivery of the coin (R6 (2) EPC) and not from the end of the period) in one of the official languages of the Office, whatever the language of the proceedings (Directives A-VII 2).
This translation may, if the following period expires later, be filed (R6 (2) EPC):
- within the opposition period (if the document is the notice of opposition);
- within the appeal period (if the document is the notice of appeal);
- within the time limit for filing the appeal brief (if the document is the appeal brief);
- within the time limit for filing a request for review (if the document is a request for review).
Caution, because if a person who can not benefit from the provisions of theA14 (4) EPC seeks to deposit a document in an unauthorized language by filing a translation on the same day, he can not argue a posteriori that the translation can serve as an original: the piece being a translation, it will be deemed to have no never been produced (T1152 / 05).
2.2.2. Tax reduction
1) Before April 1, 2014
The essential piece is:
- the description of the application for the filing fee ;
- the declaration specifying the extent to which the European patent is being challenged by the R76 (2) (c) EPC for the opposition fee ;
- the notice of appeal (and not the memorandum) for the appeal fee ;
- the request for examination for the examination fee ;
- the request for limitation or revocation for the limitation or revocation fee ;
- the request for review for the revision fee ;
This reduction is a priori in the case of multiple applicants (or co-owner or co-opponent, etc.), only one verifying the conditions set out below (see letter from R6 (3) EPC : " one person").
2) As of April 1, 2014
Nevertheless, for applications filed (incoming in phase) as of 1 April 2014 (" Decision of the Administrative Council of 13 December 2013 amending Rule 6 of the Implementing Regulation to the European Patent Convention and Article 14 (1) of the Rules relating to Fees », OY 2014, A4), to benefit from this reduction, all depositors will have to be (R6 (4) EPC and R6 (7) EPC):
- a small or medium business
- a physical person ; or
- a non-profit organization, a university and a public research organization.
The criteria are given in the Commission Recommendation 2003/361 / EC of 6 May 2003 (R6 (5) EPC).
Applicants must declare their membership in a higher mentioned category, but the EPO may ask for evidence in case of doubt (R6 (6) EPC).
The applicant will obtain a 30% tax reduction (A14 (1) RRT) but only with respect to:
- the filing fee ;
- the examination fee.
If the translation provided for inA14 (4) EPC is not produced within the time limit of 1 month (or within the period extended above), the exhibit is deemed never to have been produced. The EPO warns the person who produced the coin (Directives A-VII 5).
TheA121 EPC is applicable for a relative part:
- to deliverance;
- to the appeal procedure ex parte.
If the part that has not been translated is the cover letter of a pleading (eg delivery of a certified copy of a previous application), the act will still be performed if it is possible to identify the application number to which it relates (Directives A-VII 5).
Section 2.3. Special cases
2.3.1. Third party observation
Indeed, these coins have no obligation to be delivered within a specified period.
Nevertheless, Directives A-VII 3.5 provides that the EPO can invite the third party, if identifiable, to provide a translation.
The publication of the application shall be in the language of the proceedings (A14 (5) EPC).
2.3.3. Changes in demand
They have no obligation to be delivered within a specified period and therefore can not benefit from the derogations of theA14 (4) EPC : Indeed, the applicant is not obliged to file modifications, it is only a possibility (A123 (1) EPC); only a reply to the notification is required (A93 (4) EPC).
2.3.4. Means of proof
The means of proof can be produced in any language (R3 (3) EPC).
Nevertheless, the EPO may require a translation into the language of the proceedings, translation to be produced within a specified time (which may depend on the length of the document, Directives A-VII 3). If the translation is not filed on time, the EPO may disregard this evidence.
Section 2.4. Focus on translations
Where a translation is required, the EPO may require an attestation certifying that the translation is in conformity with the original text (R5 EPC). This certificate must be submitted within a specified time. This period benefits from
- theA121 EPC for the applicant;
- theA122 EPC for the holder and the opponent in the case of the translation of the appeal G1 / 86).
2.4.2. Translation correction
It is possible, at any time during the procedure, to make the translation conform to the text of the application as filed (A14 (2) EPC).
Attention, because if it happens during the opposition procedure (or at least after the delivery), it should not be violated the provisions of theA123 (3) EPC.
Chapter 3. Oral proceedings
The language of the oral proceedings is the language of the proceedings (R4 (1) EPC), but any party may request to use:
- another official language:
- an official language of a Contracting State:
- The translation into the language of the proceedings is the responsibility of the party requesting it (R4 (1) EPC).
- another language (R4 (4) EPC)
- If the EPO and the parties agree
This request for translation must be requested again at the appeal stage (T34 / 90).
The EPO may authorize certain derogations concerning translation (R4 (1) EPC, especially if the translator is sick is that everyone agrees to continue without translation).