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In recent times, the European Patent Office (EPO) has increased its official fees every two years.  The last increase took effect 01 April 2018.  By way of the Decision of the Administrative Council of 12 December 2019 (CA/D 12/19) (to be published in the January 2020 issue of The Official Journal of the EPO), about half of the EPO’s official fees will increase from Wednesday 01 April 2020.  The average increase is about 4%.  One notable exception is the appeal fee, which will increase by 20% (to EUR 2705).

In almost all cases, EPO official fees are paid at the prevailing rate, and so it is possible to enjoy the lower rate by paying fees early, before 01 April 2020, where that is permitted.

Renewal Fees

All of the annual renewal fees are increasing by about 4% on average (Years 3 to 20; EUR 490 to EUR 1640).  Note that, as set out in Rule 51(1) EPC, while the Year 3 renewal fee (due at the end of the month in which the second anniversary of the filing date falls) may be paid 6 months in advance, all subsequent renewal fees may only be paid 3 months in advance.  (This rule is now very strictly enforced, and payment even one day too early will almost certainly be rejected.)  And so, any renewal fees that fall due in April, May, or June 2020 can be paid “early”, before 01 April 2020, at the current (lower) rate.

Filing Fees

All of the official fees normally paid when, or shortly after, filing a European patent application (e.g., basic fee, page fee, claims fee, and search fee; as well as designation fee and examination fee for regional phase applications) will increase by about 4% on average.  And so, it may be sensible to file a European regional phase application (based on an international (PCT) application) and pay the associated fees “early” (i.e., both before the normal 31-month deadline and also before 01 April 2020), at the current (lower) rate.

Wilhelmus (Willum) deals with patent drafting, prosecution and opposition in all key jurisdictions. His particular area of focus is the pharmaceutical sector, where he has extensive experience working on small molecules for therapy of a range of indications, and spanning early drug discovery projects through to clinical candidates. Willum works with a broad range of clients – primarily in the UK, Europe, and the US. They include universities and spin-out companies, as well as large multinational pharmaceutical corporations.
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