Fees in the spotlight at the EPO
The Official Journal of the European Patent Office (EPO) published the Decision of the Administrative Council of December 14, 2023, that the official fees for European patent applications will be increasing on April 1, 2024. As is usual bi-yearly, almost all official fees have gone up.
A significant fee change is the steep (about 30%) increase of the renewal fees for 3rd and 4th year (690 and 845 EUR from the current 530 and 660 EUR, respectively). The exact amounts of the new fees can be found here.
Clearly in the case of the annuities for the third and fourth year, the EPO’s interest to optimise its financial streams has prevailed over the applicants’ expectation of only reasonable fee increases.
The EPO also provides new support measures explained in the EPO’s Notice of January 25, 2024, for reduction of fees for various small entities such as microenterprises, natural persons, non-profit organizations, universities, and public research organizations. The fees which can be reduced with 30% include the filing fee, search fee, examination fee, designation fee, fee for grant, and renewal fees. Here a brief overview as to what it involves:
Thus, microenterprises, natural persons, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations will be entitled to a reduction of various fees irrespective of their residence, place of business and nationality except those who have filed five or more European patent applications or Euro-PCT applications within the five years prior to either the filing date of the European patent application concerned or the entry date into the European phase of the Euro-PCT application concerned, which will make them ineligible for the fee reductions. This cap is designed to ensure that only those applicants with little or no experience of the European patent system will benefit from the support measures. Notably, SMEs are not included among the applicants who can benefit from these reductions.
On the other hand, the previous “language reduction” system of reductions of the filing and examination fees for applicants who have residence or principal place of business in an EPC state which has an official language other than English, French or German, and for nationals of such states resident abroad, who have filed the application or request for examination in such a non-EPO language, remains in place. This system will apply also to SMEs, in addition to microenterprises, natural persons, and non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations.
In case of co-applicants, each applicant must fulfil the applicable eligibility criteria. Applicants who fulfil both criteria may benefit from a combination of the language- and micro-entity-related fee reduction schemes, whereby the filing fee and/or the examination fee can be reduced by as much as 51%.
Applicants seeking reduced fees need to declare their eligibility at the time of their first reduced payment and said criteria will have to be fulfilled by all co-applicants. Additionally, applicants must promptly notify the EPO of any changes in their status that might affect their fee reduction eligibility. The EPO can request evidence if there is any doubt about the accuracy of these declarations. Crucially, if an applicant makes an incorrect declaration or fails to report a status change, and a reduced payment is made, this will result in the fee being considered unpaid and the application deemed withdrawn.
Further by Decisions of the President of the EPO dated January 15, 2024, also the refund of the search fee under Art. 9(2) EPC and the refund of the international search fee by the EPO acting as International Searching Authority has been amended. Another decision of the President of the EPO dated January 25, 2024, informs of still further changes in the fees of the EPO relating amongst others to registration fees for licenses and other rights, transfers and certified copies which will now be possible at no fee when using MyEPO (see here).
For more information, please contact us at email@example.com