The EPO has announced a number of changes in its official fees, mostly having effect from 1 April 2018. The majority of the fees remain unchanged; however, Applicants will see a mixture of increases and decreases amongst the selected changes. Some of the more important changes are reviewed below.
If a European patent application is based on a PCT application that was searched by an office other than the EPO, then the Applicant is required to pay a search fee to the EPO to allow the EPO to carry out a supplementary search of the European application. A reduced search fee has traditionally been available for international applications where the international search report was drawn up by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Japanese Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the Chinese Intellectual Property Office, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Russian Federation) or the Australian Patent Office. Since 2005, the search fee in such cases has been reduced by €190.
With effect from 1 April 2018, this fee reduction will no longer be available, and the same search fee will be charged in all cases.
As of 1 April 2018, the EPO’s appeal fee will increase from €1,880 to €2,255 for larger companies. However, the current, lower fee amount will still apply if the appeal is filed by an individual, small or medium sized enterprise, university, public research organisation, or non-profit organisation.
The EPO encourages the electronic filing of documents by, for example, reducing the filing fee in cases where the application is filed electronically rather than on paper. The fee for filing European patent applications non-electronically is being raised to €250, but the filing fee where the application is filed electronically is being held at €120.
The EPO has also introduced further fee reductions in cases where Applicants file documents such as the abstract, description, claims and drawings in a character-coded format. Such reductions will be available in the filing fee, the grant fee, and the transmittal fee for international applications where the EPO is the Receiving Office. However, it is not yet possible to obtain these fee reductions because further information regarding the character-coded format and its requirements are yet to be released by the EPO.
As of 1 April 2018, fees payable to the EPO as International Searching Authority or International Examining Authority will decrease: the international search fee and international preliminary examination fee will be reduced by €100. In addition, the current 50% reduction in the European examination fee when an international preliminary examination report was prepared by the EPO will increase to 75%. These reductions are presumably intended to encourage more Applicants to make use of the EPO’s services in relation to PCT applications.