Fee Changes at the European Patent Office

20 December 2017

The European Patent Office (EPO) have announced they will be amending fees rules. As well as introducing some small fee incentives for filing electronically, they will be implementing fee reductions for International (PCT) applications.

PCT applications function as an option to patent in 152 countries worldwide and offer a cost-effective way of deferring the decision (and cost) of which countries to patent in.

PCT applications undergo an obligatory (Chapter I) procedure during which an application is searched and a non-binding opinion on patentability provided; and an optional (Chapter II) procedure during which a “Preliminary Examination” can occur if the results of the Chapter I opinion are not unambiguously favourable.

The Chapter II route can provide an added degree of certainty before incurring the costs of patenting in desired countries – but at a cost.

The forthcoming fee reductions will reduce the cost of filing a PCT application slightly, and will reduce the additional cost of using Chapter II a lot, for the usual case where a European patent is sought.

Where the EPO conducts the search of the PCT application, as of 1st April 2018:-

  • the international search fee will be reduced to €1775 [currently €1875]
  • the Chapter II international preliminary examination fee will be reduced to €1830 [currently €1930]
  • a 75% discount in the European examination fee will be offered where a PCT Chapter II examination by the EPO has occurred [current discount 50%]

For Chapter I procedures, this represents a small saving in fees (€100); and for Chapter II procedures a further €100 saving in fees compared with the current situation.   In addition, the increase in the discount of the European examination fee will result in a saving of over €450 on filing in Europe.

The changes will make Chapter II procedures a more affordable option where additional reassurance regarding patentability is required after Chapter I.

Our attorneys have a wealth of experience protecting innovations using a variety of patent filing strategies tailored to our clients’ needs including the use of PCT applications.  Should you have any questions regarding PCT strategy or patent filing strategy more generally, we welcome any and all enquiries.

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