EPO related support measures for small entities – 1 April 2024


From 1 April 2024, the EPO are introducing a new fee reduction scheme specifically for micro-entities. This initiative, in addition to the existing language-related fee reductions, aims to facilitate smaller entities' access to the European patent system, fostering their growth and development.

Currently, language-related fee reductions offer a 30% discount on certain official fees to eligible small entities based in an EPC contracting state. These entities must file a European patent application or request examination in an official language of that state, other than English, French, or German. These reductions are available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), natural persons, non-profit organizations, universities, and public research organizations.

The new micro-entity scheme, effective for fee payments from 1 April 2024, applies to European patent applications and Euro-PCT applications entering the European phase, regardless of their filing date. Eligible applicants will benefit from a 30% reduction in certain EPO official fees, including filing, search, examination, designation, grant, and renewal fees.


Unlike language-related fee reductions, micro-entity status is not based on nationality or principal place of business. However, while the new scheme covers microenterprises, natural persons, non-profit organizations, universities, and public research organizations, SMEs are excluded. According to Article 2 of the European Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC, microenterprises are defined as enterprises employing fewer than 10 persons with an annual turnover and/or balance sheet not exceeding EUR 2 million. Further information on the definition of small entities is contained at paragraphs 6-8 of the EPO official notice.


  1. To benefit from any fee reduction, applicants must declare their eligibility to the EPO with or before the first reduced payment.

  2. If there are multiple applicants, each must be eligible for fee reductions.

  3. Any changes in applicant entity status or application rights transfer must be notified to the EPO for future fees to be paid at the appropriate rate.


The EPO is implementing a five-year cap on applications eligible for fee reductions. This means only the first five applications in the preceding five-year period will qualify. Applicants should ensure they meet all of the eligibility requirements before completing their declaration. Further assistance on this matter can be provided by your usual attorney. The EPO will conduct a systematic check on eligible applications when eligibility is claimed. If the cap is exceeded the EPO will invite the applicant to pay the missing amount within a period of two months from the date of the invitation. 


Where a declaration of micro-entity status has not been filed, is incorrect or a change of status has not been notified to the EPO, any reduced fee will be deemed not to have been paid. 

For most fees, this will mean that the application will be deemed withdrawn. The loss of rights may, where appropriate, be remedied by further processing or applying for re-establishment of rights, subject to making good the underpayment and paying the applicable fee. 

For renewal fees, the usual six-month grace period applies, so the missing amount and the additional fee (50% surcharge) can be paid within this period.


The EPO have also published FAQs, which are here.

If you have further questions regarding these fee changes, please get in touch with your usual Mewburn contact or email mail@mewburn.com.