New possibility of fee reduction at the European Patent Office

On 1 April 2024, the Notice from the European Patent Office dated 25 January 2024 concerning fee-based support measures, inter alia for small enterprises, entered into force.

The associated new Rule 7a(3) introduces a general fee reduction for the following applicants

  • micro-enterprises
  • natural persons and
  • non-profit organisations, universities or public research institutions.

This applies regardless of the language of the application, nationality or residence of the applicant.

A micro-enterprise is defined as a company that employs fewer than 10 employees and whose annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total does not exceed 2 million euros. In order to qualify for the status of “micro-enterprise”, applicants must submit a corresponding declaration to the EPO at the latest at the time of the first reduced payment (Rule 7b EPC). If there is more than one applicant for a particular application, each individual applicant must fulfil the requirements (Rule 7a(5) EPC).

Rule 7a(4) excludes the possibility of reductions if the same person has filed five or more European patent applications or Euro-PCT applications within a period of five years preceding the filing date of the European patent application concerned or the date of entry into the European phase of the Euro-PCT application concerned.

When filing a European patent application or regionalising an international application in Europe, the following fees may be reduced:

  • Filing fee
  • Fee for a European or supplementary European search
  • Examination fee and, in addition, the international search fee previously paid if the European Patent Office acted as International Searching Authority
  • Designation fee
  • Grant fee
  • Renewal fees for the European patent application.

The reduction amounts to 30 % of the corresponding fee.

The reduction applies to fees paid from 1 April 2024 for European patent applications and Euro-PCT applications, irrespective of their filing date.

The existing fee reduction for applicants (micro-enterprises, small or medium-sized enterprises, natural persons and non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations) with nationality, residence or principal place of business in a contracting State in which none of the official languages of the European Patent Office (English, French or German) is an official language, for filing a European patent application or filing a request for examination in a language other than the official language of the EPO, continues to exist under Rule 7a(1) EPC and can be combined with the new fee reduction. The reductions for the same fee for the same request will be calculated one after the other.

If you have any further questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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