The EPO will increase its fees with effect from 1 April 2020, with an increase of around 4% for most fees. The 4% increase is fairly consistent across the board with the notable exception that the EPO appeal fee for non-SMEs*, will increase by from €2255 to €2705, representing an increase of €450 or 20%.
Most fees are associated with particular payment deadline. The fee you pay is dictated by the EPO’s fee schedule** on the day of payment, rather than the fee schedule on the day of the deadline. This means that even if a relevant deadline falls on or after 1 April, you may be able to pay the fee early, on or before the 31 March, to take advantage of the current, lower fee rate.
The greatest savings are to be had for payment of the following by March 2020
Renewal fees – can be paid up to three months early (or up to six months early for the third year renewal fee). Save between €20 and €65 per application. Consider this for all renewals due by 30 June 2020, and all third year renewals due by 30 September 2020.
Euro-PCT national-phase applications – can be filed and fees paid any time. Save up to €145 and €1 per excess page.
Divisional applications – can be filed and fees paid any time while an existing application is pending. Save anything from €45 to €100s.
Examination and Designation fees – can be paid any time before the relevant deadline. Save €100.
Appeals – can be filed and fees paid any time after the decision to be appealed has issued. Save €95 if you qualify as an SME* and €450 if not
For many companies with small portfolios, a 4% saving may not be enough to warrant bringing forward costs. However, across a large portfolio, cumulative savings could be significant.
Contact your patent attorney to find out whether you can make use of these potential savings.
Emily Weal 2 March 2020
*The following qualify as an SMEs: (a) small and medium-sized enterprises [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], (b) natural persons; and (c) non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations.