The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced that the official fees charged for European patent applications will be increasing from 1 April 2020. More details of the fee increases can be found here and here.
Most official fees are increasing by an “inflationary” amount of 4-5%. An exception is the appeal fee, which will be increasing by nearly 20% for most appellants.
In this regard, there are currently two levels of appeal fee. A lower level of appeal fee is payable for appellants that are either (a) a natural person, or (b) a small- or medium-sized enterprise, a non-profit organisation, a university or a public research organisation (see here for further details on these categories). The appeal fee for such appellants is increasing only by about 4% (from 1,800 EUR to 1,955 EUR). However, the appeal fee for all other appellants is increasing from 2,255 EUR to 2,705 EUR.
We understand that the EPO is raising the “standard” appeal fee at a rate considerably above inflation as part of its ongoing efforts to make the Boards of Appeal financially self-sufficient and to increase the perceived independence of the Boards of Appeal.
It is also possible that the EPO hopes that increases in the appeal fee will reduce the overall number of appeals filed each year, and thereby help to address the backlog of undecided appeals. The EPO has also updated the rate at which the appeal fee is refunded at various stages of the appeal procedure (see our separate news item here), the aim of which is to increase the number of withdrawn appeals (and thereby also help to reduce the backlog of undecided appeals).
In view of the EPO’s official fee increases, if you would like to file a case early to secure the lower rates, or make a fee payment early on an existing case, please get in touch with your usual J A Kemp contact.