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The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced a rise in many of its official fees to take effect from 1st April 2022. The announcement, published with full details of the new fees in the EPO Official Journal in January 2022, follows the Decision of the Administrative Council of 15th December 2021 (CA/D 13/21). The timing is in line with previous fee increases taking place biennially. Most of the affected fees are set to increase by around 3%.
Fee payments equal to the old fee amounts will still count as validly-made payments for up to six months after 1st April 2022, as long as the outstanding fee amount is made good within two months of an invitation from the EPO.
The increases will apply to fees paid on or after 1st April 2022 and so for some fees where the applicant has a choice over the timing of payment, savings may be made by completing certain acts and paying official fees before April. Some examples of possible cost savings are briefly explained below.
Have you been stalling on the filing of a divisional application? Applicants able to make a decision on a divisional application before the fees increase can save on at least filing and search fees as well as the payment of back renewal fees. Filing the divisional application before fees are raised is most cost effective for cases where the parent application has been pending for many years, and payment of many back renewal fees will be required when filing the divisional.
Renewal fees for pending European applications fall due on the last day of the month containing the anniversary of the date of filing of the European patent application. Payment for renewal fees can be made in advance of the due date. For example, a renewal fee for patent year 3, which is due at the end of the month two years from the filing date, can be paid up to six months in advance of the due date. Renewal fees for patent years 4-20, on the other hand, can be paid up to three months in advance of the due date. Making early payments on renewal fees before 1st April 2022, where possible, may save an applicant approximately 3% of these fees.
Applicants with a pending PCT application in the international phase might also consider paying to enter the European regional phase before the 31-month deadline if it allows them to beat the April fee increases.
If you would like to discuss one of the possibilities raised in this article or other possible cost savings related to the EPO’s fee increases, you can contact the writers or another of our expert patent attorneys.