The European Patent Office (“EPO”) recently announced that most of its fees will increase by between 5 and 8 per cent from April 1, 2010. A summary of the new fees is shown here.
What does this all mean to you?
If you know that you want to enter the European regional phase of a PCT application, you should do so before April 1 to save around 5% on the official fees due.
For example, a typical PCT application might have 35 pages and 15 claims, with the USPTO as the International Searching Authority (ISA). If that PCT application enters the European regional phase on or after April 1, the total official fees will be US4192. If it enters the European regional phase before April 1, the total official fees will be US3975 (saving slightly more than 5% in the official fees).
Exactly the same principle applies to filing a new European patent application directly at the EPO. It particularly applies to new divisional applications, where the savings on accumulated renewal fees can be considerable.
Therefore, if possible, you should file new European patent applications (particularly divisionals), and enter the European regional phase of PCT applications, before April 1.
For the first time in a number of years, the EPO is not introducing a new payment structure. The changes in fees will not change day-to-day practice, save for the need to pay higher official fees. Therefore, our previous practice advice, for example concerning minimizing the number of claims, still applies.
The major practice changes will arise from the changes in the rules on the filing of divisional applications. Please refer to our note on the changes relating to divisional practice. We expect that 1 October 2010 will be the deadline to file many divisional applications. We strongly recommend reviewing your portfolio of European patent applications now and filing as many divisional applications as possible before April 1 to save filing costs.