The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently confirmed that, from 1 April 2018, it will no longer offer a reduction in the search fee for European regional phase applications searched by non-European patent offices during the PCT international phase. Currently, the EPO offers a search fee reduction for European regional phase applications which have been searched by any of the following offices during the international stage:
- 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, Patents and Trademarks (Russian Federation)
- The Australian Patent Office
The reduction of €190 amounts to a saving of approximately 15%. Accordingly, if applicants are intending to pursue European regional phase protection for any PCT applications searched by the above offices, it may be prudent to deliberately file the European regional phase application prior to April 2018, before the full search fee becomes payable.