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We reported in June 2015 that the Select Committee of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO) endorsed the so-called True Top 4 proposal tabled by the EPO on renewal fees applicable to the European Patent with Unitary Effect (EPUE) (see here). This essentially means that the renewal fees for the EPUE will be the equivalent to the national renewal fees of the four EU member states where European patents are most frequently validated.
On 17 November 2015, the members states involved in the EPUE reached an agreement which fixes the distribution key for the revenue from EPUE renewal fees for an initial period of operation. It has been agreed that 50% of fees will be retained by the EPO while the remainder (minus an administrative charge) will be distributed among the participating states according to a formula that takes account of the GDP and the number of applications filed from that country.
It is our understanding that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) preparatory committee aims to complete its work by mid-2016, in principle enabling the EPUE and the UPC to come into effect in early 2017. However, the EPUE and court will not become operational until the UPC agreement has been ratified by at least thirteen member states including the states in which the highest number of European patents had effect in 2012, namely the United Kingdom (UK), France and Germany. Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal have already ratified the agreement, but the UK and Germany have not.