English becomes patenting language in Finland

As from 1 November 2011, the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (NBPR) will use English as the language of decisions for national patent applications alongside Finnish and Swedish.

More and more often, Finnish export companies seek patent protection for their latest product developments internationally as well as domestically. The number of applications from Finnish patent applicants are on the increase both at the European Patent Office and at national patent offices in the USA, Japan, and China.

The use of English as the language of decisions for national applications makes it possible to draft the application directly in English and to continue using the same language when applying for a patent abroad. This helps lower the patenting threshold in Finland and gives leverage to the protection of inventions at other countries’ patent offices. Savings in translation costs can also be made.

In practice, English is the lingua franca of the patenting business, because the majority of international PCT applications and applications for a European patent are published in English. Therefore, when studying patent information, companies must use English. Similarly, of the PCT applications examined by the NBPR the majority are in English, and the rest in Finnish or Swedish.

In connection with the amendment of the Patents Act at the beginning of November 2011, Finland also accedes to the London Agreement, which is a protocol relating to the European Patent Convention. As a result, foreign patent applicants can validate their European patents in Finland by submitting a translation into Finnish of the claims only, while the description can be submitted in English.

In order to give better service to Finnish patent applicants, the NBPR acquired the status of an International Preliminary Examining Authority in 2005. At the same time, an intensive improvement of our quality system for examination was launched. Later on, our operation management system acquired the ISO 9001:2008 certificate. The annual growth in the number of filings of international PCT applications to be examined by the NBPR shows that our clients are satisfied with the high quality of the work that we deliver.

Information on the PCT system: http://www.prh.fi/en/patentit/hakuulkom/kvhakemus.html

Information on the European Patent Convention and applications for a European patent http://www.prh.fi/en/patentit/hakuulkom/eurpathakemus.html

Statistics on patent applications http://www.prh.fi/en/patentit/Tilastoja/vuositilastot.html

Information on the London Agreement http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/london-agreement.html

Amendment of Patents Act: http://www.prh.fi/en/uutiset/P_259.html

For more information please contact:

Pekka Launis
Deputy Director General
National Board of Patents and Registration
Patents and Innovations Line
Tel. +358 040 546 1470

Ms Kristiina Grönlund
Unit Director
National Board of Patents and Registration
Patent Library and Advisory Services
Tel. +358 040 581 1172

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Latest update 26.10.2011