The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced a series of fee changes which came into effect on 1 April 2018. It is to be noted firstly that the EPO have not applied the previously introduced inflation-based biennial fee adjustment for the upcoming two years 2018-2020. A summary of the fee changes is as follows:
• There is no reduction anymore in the supplementary European search fee for PCT applications entering the European phase where the International Search Authority (ISA) was the USPTO, Japanese Patent Office, Korean Patent Office, Chinese Patent Office, Russian Patent Office, or Australian Patent Office. The reduction had been €190. Thus, the supplementary European search fee for such applications will be €1300.
• For PCT applications where the ISA or International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) is the EPO, the international search fee has been reduced from €1875 to €1775, and the international preliminary examination fee has been reduced from €1930 to €1830. If international preliminary examination is conducted at the EPO and the application subsequently enters the European phase, the reduction in the examination fee payable to the EPO on EP phase entry will increase to 75% as compared to the current 50%.
• Third year renewal fees for European applications can now be paid up to six months before they fall due as compared to the three months previously. This may allow applicants to pay the third year renewal fee on EP phase entry instead of having to wait until after a PCT application has entered the EP phase.
• There will now be two levels of appeal fee depending on the size of the appellant. A lower level of appeal fee of €1880 will apply for appeals filed by natural persons and entities referred to in Rule 6(4) EPC, i.e. small and medium-sized enterprises, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations. An increased appeal fee of €2255 will apply to all other entities.
• The EPO has proposed reductions in the filing fee and grant fee for European applications and the PCT transmittal fee for all filing documents (description, claims, drawings and abstract) filed in character-coded format (XML/DOCX). However, character-coded format filing is not available yet and the EPO will inform users once this capability becomes available in due course. We will keep you informed of developments in this regard.
If you have any questions regarding the EPO fee changes outlined above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
By Alan Casey