In recent times, the European Patent Office (EPO) has increased its official fees every two years, although the last increase took effect exceptionally on 1 April 2023.
By way of the Decision of the Administrative Council of 14 December 2023 (CA/D 16/23) (published in the January 2024 issue of The Official Journal of the EPO), some of the EPO’s official fees will again increase from 1 April 2024. The majority of the official fee increases will be around 4%. However, the third and fourth renewal fees will increase by 30% and 28% respectively. This is countered by a number of official fees that are not increasing this year, these include filing, opposition, and appeal fees.
The EPO is also introducing a new micro-entity fee system, which is being extended from the current system, for eligible micro-entities, to include fee-reductions for filing, search, designation, examination, grant, and renewal fees. In this context, micro-entities are defined as microenterprises, natural persons and non-profit organisations, universities, and public research organisations, provided they have filed fewer than five patent applications in the last five years. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not included as micro-entities.
In almost all cases, official fees must be paid at the prevailing rate, and so official fees paid on or after 1 April 2024 must be paid at the new (higher) rate, where applicable. For six months after the new (higher) fees take effect (and so, until 1 October 2024), 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.
If you have further questions regarding these fee changes, please get in touch with your usual Mewburn contact or email email@example.com.
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