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The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has recently announced changes to patent fees taking effect 6 April 2018. This follows a consultation on changes to the existing fee structure. The Government's response to the consultation setting out the changes to be implemented can be found here.
An excess claims fee and an excess page fee is to be newly introduced under UK practice, bringing the UK system more in line with that of the EPO and other patent offices. However, excess claims fees will be payable only for the 26th and subsequent claims, in contrast to the 16th and subsequent claims at the EPO. Page fees will be payable from the 36th page onwards, as at the EPO. The excess claims fee will be £20 per claim and the excess page fee will be £10 per page.
Additionally, modest increases are to be made to the basic application, search and examination fees. These fees will respectively amount to £60, £150, and £100, for applications filed online. A 25% surcharge will apply for late payment of the application fee after filing. Small increases are also to be made to late-stage renewal fees, with each fee from year 12 onwards increasing by £10.
The fees payable for UK patent applications will remain relatively inexpensive compared to other patent offices such as the EPO. Also, the new fee structure will not result in any increased cost for applicants filing a UK patent application solely to establish a priority date - for which purpose it is unnecessary to pay any of the application, search or examination fees. Excess claims fees will be payable only upon filing of a request for search, and excess page fees only upon filing of a request for examination.
In summary, the UKIPO will continue to provide a low cost system for patent filing and search/examination. The UK patent fees thus still represent good value given the high quality of the UKIPO’s output. It will also be possible to manage costs in claims and page fees by appropriate drafting and amendment of applications prior to filing in the UK.
Applicants may wish to consider filing applications ahead of the fee increase on 6 April 2018 to save on costs, in particular where there are large numbers of claims/pages involved.