The Administrative Council of the EPO has recently announced a number of amendments to the Rules relating to fees (RFees) which set the fees that are due to the European Patent Office (see CA/D 12/19, soon to be published in the The Official Journal of the EPO).
These changes are due to come into effect from 1st April 2020.
Majority of fee increases are about 4%
The majority of fees listed in RFees Article 2 have increased, with the average increase being about 4%. The fee increases are broadly summarised in the Table1 below.
The fee for appeal is the only fee to increase substantially with respect to the previous fees. After 1st April 2020, the appeal fee rises by about 20% from €2255 to €2705 for most appellants and corporate clients. However, this fee for appeal only applies for entities other than (a) small and medium-sized enterprises, (b) natural persons; and (c) non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations.2 These entities are still are entitled to a reduced fee; the amount of which has only increased by about 5% (see Table below).
In contrast, fees required by the Office with respect to international applications remain largely unchanged. Search fees in respect of an international search and supplementary international search keep the current fee of €1775, while the fee for the preliminary examination of an international application remains at €1830.
Incentive to pay fees early
There is an incentive to pay fees before 1st April 2020, if possible.
Applicants may consider filing divisional applications or early national phase entry for Euro-PCT applications ahead of the fee changes coming to effect. Savings can be made on the filing fee, search fee, examination fee, designation fee, renewal fees if due, and additional fees if due (i.e. divisional fee and excess page fees). For a Euro-PCT application, this could save at least €145 per application.
If you have any questions regarding changes to the EPO fee structure, please do get in touch.
2 Entities who wish to benefit from a reduced fee for appeal must file a statement declaring that they fall within one of these categories, at the latest by the time of payment of the reduced appeal fee. Under the recommendation of 2003361/EC, SME enterprises are considered to be any entity that is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons, which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million and for which 25% of the capital is held directly or indirectly by another company that is not an SME.