The EPO recently announced their fees are to increase on the 1 April 2020. This is in line with their typical practice of increasing fees every two years.
The average increase will be 4% for most fees including for the appeal fee for specific entities*, however the appeal fee for larger appellants increases by 20%, from €2255 to €2705.
In the majority of cases, the EPO fees are associated with a payment deadline. The fee you pay is determined by the currently active fee schedule, rather than the fee schedule that may be in force on the day of the deadline.
This means that regardless of whether a fee deadline falls due on or after the 1 April 2020 (when the fee schedule is due to change), you may be able to pay the fee before the 1 April 2020 and thus at the current, lower, rate.
Renewal fees, for example, are increasing by 4%, but the third year renewal fee (due at the end of the month in which the second anniversary of the filing date falls) may be paid 6 months in advance, and all subsequent renewal fees may be paid 3 months in advance. It may, therefore, be beneficial to pay a renewal fee before the 1 April 2020.
Similarly, all the official filing fees due on, or shortly after, filing a European patent application (i.e., basic fee, page fee, claims fee, search fee, (and designation fee and examination fee for regional phase applications)) will increase by approximately 4%.
A reasonable cost saving may therefore be enjoyed by filing a European regional phase application (i.e. one based on an international (PCT) application) and paying the associated fees early (i.e. before the normal 31-month deadline and also before 1 April 2020).
Also, if a party is considering filing an appeal against an issued decision, they may wish to do so before the fee increases on 1 April 2020.
Please contact us at AA Thornton if you have any questions about fees which may be due on your cases, or if you want to explore the possibility of paying fees before the increase on 1 April 2020.
*the specific entities are (a) small and medium-sized enterprises [enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons, which have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million and for which 25% of the capital is held directly or indirectly by another company that is not an SME], (b) natural persons; and (c) non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations.