Upon grant of a European patent, the patent needs to be brought into force in the European states of the patentee's choosing. In some countries there has, for a number of years, been an arrangement (the "London Agreement") through which any requirements for translating the patent into the official language of these countries have been dropped. However, Belgium was not one of these countries and so required a translation of the patent into French or German.
From next year, this translation requirement for Belgium has been dropped, though strangely not through Belgium signing up to the London Agreement. However, this is a welcome move and will make patent protection in Belgium more affordable via a European patent.
The move to eradicate translations from European patents is also an advantage of the proposed Unitary Patent system, which today received the surprising fillip of the UK signaling that it will shortly ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement, despite the looming backdrop of Brexit.
This new law will apply to European patents with a date on which the European Patent Bulletin mentions the grant, the maintenance in an amended form after opposition, or the limitation on or after 1st January 2017, irrespective of the filing date of the European patent application.