European Patent Office official fees go up

The official fees of the European Patent Office (EPO) rise as of 1 April 2012.  This is the increase that the EPO brings in every two years in order to take into account inflation. The changes that are coming into effect mean that fees typically rise by 5 %-10%. Some fees have gone up by more, others less.

Some of the more common fees and the applicable changes are:-

Current Fee (Euros) Fee from 1 April 2012 (Euros) Increase (%)
Filing fee (online filing) 105 115 9.5
Search fee 1105 1165 5.4
Designation fee 525 555 5.7
Renewal fee – year 3 420 445 6.0
Renewal fee – year 4 525 555 5.7
Renewal fee – year 5 735 775 5.4
Renewal fee – year 6 945 995 5.3
Renewal fee – year 7 1050 1105 5.2
Renewal fee – year 8 1155 1215 5.2
Renewal fee – year 9 1260 1325 5.2
Renewal fee – year 10 onwards 1420 1495 5.3
Exam fee 1480 1555 5.1
Grant and print fee 830 875 5.4
Opposition fee 705 745 5.7

The new fees apply for all payments made from 1 April 2012 onwards.

It is worthwhile considering filing European cases before the end of March if a decision has been made that European coverage is required, even if the deadline does not fall until later in the year, e.g. April, May or June, in order to save some money in relation to the official fees that are due on filing. This is the case for both European applications that are filed directly and those that are filed as regional phase filings derived from an International (PCT) patent application.

The same rationale also applies to any official fees that are due on a European patent application that has already been filed, for example if there is a deadline coming up for paying examination and designation fees   these could be paid before 1 April 2012 in order to avoid the price rises.

EPO annual renewal fees can be validly paid up to three months in advance and therefore any renewals due from April up to the end of June can be paid at the end of March at the old, lower, rates.

Although the individual fee increases are mainly about 5-6%, the total increase in overall fees payable for applicants with many patent applications could be significant. For some applicants the savings achieved by paying before the price rise could run into thousands of pounds. It is therefore well worth thinking about bringing forward decisions on matters where an EPO fee payment is involved, within reason.