In recent times, the European Patent Office (EPO) has increased its official fees every two years. The last increase took effect 1 April 2020. By way of the Decision of the Administrative Council of 15 December 2021 (CA/D 13/21) (published in the January 2022 issue of The Official Journal of the EPO), most of the EPO’s official fees will again increase from 1 April 2022. On average, the official fees will increase by about 2.5%.
In almost all cases, official fees must be paid at the prevailing rate, and so official fees paid on or after 1 April 2022 must be paid at the new (higher) rate. For six months after the new (higher) fees take effect (and so, until 1 October 2022), if an official fee is incorrectly paid at the old (lower) rate, it will still be considered validly paid if the deficit is paid within two months of an invitation from the EPO to do so.
In some cases, it may be possible to pay an official fee “early”, before 1 April 2022, at the lower rate.
For example, it may be sensible to file a European regional phase application (based on an international (PCT) application) “early”, before 1 April 2022, so as to avoid the fee increase. (Note that it is not necessary also to request “early processing”). The “normal” deadline for entering the European regional phase is 31 months from the earliest priority date, or, if priority is not claimed, from the international application date. It is common to act a few weeks or months before that deadline, and so by also acting before 1 April 2022, the increased official fees may be avoided.
Renewal fees for pending European patent applications will increase by about 3%. While a European patent application is pending, annual renewal fees must be paid in respect of each of Years 3 to 20. In most cases, they are due, in advance, at the end of month in which the anniversary of the application date falls; for example, the Year 5 renewal fee is typically due at the end of month in which the 4th anniversary of the application date falls. Renewal fees can be paid “early”, but only slightly so. The Year 3 renewal fee can be paid up to six months “early”, but all other renewal fees (for Years 4-20) can only be paid up to three months “early”. And so, in some cases, it may be possible to pay a renewal fee “early”, before 1 April 2022, at the lower rate.
If you have further questions regarding this EPO fee increase, please get in touch with your usual Mewburn contact or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Sign up to our newsletter: Forward - news, insights and features
We have an easily-accessible office in central London, as well as a number of regional offices throughout the UK and an office in Munich, Germany. We’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch.