30 September 2016
The London Protocol is intended to reduce the translation requirements for a granted European patent upon validation in EPC member-states that subscribe to the protocol. Belgium, which already officially recognises two of the three EPO languages, has never ratified said protocol. However, we are pleased to report that the need to file a translation is to be lifted on January 1, 2017 (new Art. XI.83, as amended by Art. 22 of the Belgian law of June 29, 2016). The European Patent granted in English, French or German will have the same effect as a Belgian patent without any further translation requirements.
It is a welcome policy change that we believe will be a stimulus to National and International companies considering extending patent protection to Belgium. The new law will be applicable to European Patents granted on or after January 1, 2017. Patents being granted before that date will remain under the previous regime, i.e. requiring a full translation of the specification in either French, Dutch, or German, with a re-establishment of rights being available. Early publication of a translation of the claims of a pending European Patent application will remain available for parties wanting to establish provisional protection.