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Background
16 January 2014

Changes at the EPO from April 1

In accordance with its normal 2 year cycle, the EPO is increasing its official fees from 1 April 2014, generally by 4-5%. However, certain fees have increased more significantly, in particular the search fee (by 10%) and the appeal fee (by 50%). New fees for divisional applications have also been introduced.

These changes are discussed in more detail below.

 Divisional applications

From 1 April 2014, the 2 year limit for filing divisional applications no longer applies.  Applicants will be able to file a divisional application relating to any earlier European patent application, provided that the earlier application is still pending.  To discourage the practice of filing a chain of divisional applications (i.e. divisionals from divisionals), additional fees are payable from 1 April for any divisional application of second or subsequent generation.

The additional fee amounts are as follows:
– 210 Euro for a second generation divisional application
– 420 Euro for a third generation divisional application
– 630 Euro for a fourth generation divisional application
– 840 Euro for a fifth or subsequent generation divisional application

No additional fees are payable for filing a standard first generation divisional application.

Appeal Fee

From 1 April 2014 the fee payable for filing an appeal will increase by 50% from 1,240 Euro to 1,860 Euro.  However, in return, the rules will change to allow a 50% refund of this fee if a pending appeal is withdrawn.

Summary

Since the new EPO fee amounts coming into force on 1 April 2014 enact an overall 4 to 5% increase in the fees payable, applicants should consider taking procedural steps early to avoid these fee changes.  For example, this may involve filing new applications before 1 April to avoid the substantial increase in the search fee, or paying renewal fees early, in the available 3 month window before the due date.

 

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