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EPO publishes proposals for the level of renewal fees for European patents with unitary effect

06 March 2015

​Applicants of European patents and lawyers, as well as patent attorneys, have waited a long time for the news.

On 6 March 2015, the President of the EPO published proposals for the level of renewal fees for European patents with unitary effect (unitary patents). The Select Committee of the Administrative Counsel has been requested to advise on the Office's two proposals.  

The First Proposal is said to be set out on the basis of the sum for the 4 most frequently validated countries (TOP 4 level) from year 10, while maintaining the level of EPO internal renewal fees for years 3 to 5, with a steady progression until year 10. Over 20 years, that accrues EUR 37.995.
The Second Proposal is based on the TOP 5 level, i.e. a sum for the 5 most frequently validated countries from year 10, while maintaining the level of EPO internal renewal fees for years 3 to 5, with a steady progression until year 10. In addition, a reduction for certain categories of patentees, namely SMEs, Universities and others, is provided. Over 20 years, that accrues EUR 43.625 and EUR 41.655 for the normal and reduced level, respectively.
It has to be noted that, in its calculation, the EPO has taken into account additional costs incurred by the applicant for hiring a local patent attorney to administer renewal-fee payments. This is argued by the EPO to make the proposal appear more attractive in comparison to the total sum of national fees for a small number of states (3 to 5).
For those patents that require validation in many countries, e.g. basic patents in the pharmaceutical industry, the proposal for the renewal fees of a unitary patent may seem attractive. Other industries where patents require validation in only in 3 to 4 countries will have to take the decision of which European patent they are ready to accept additional costs for a unitary patent. In that context, it will also have to be taken into account that, with the unitary patent, there will not be the flexibility to allow the European patent to elapse in individual countries when the renewal fees increase in the later years of a patent. 
 
On initial inspection, the proposals submitted by the President of the EPO appear to be in line with the expectations set by him, i.e. the fees will be higher than hoped, but lower than feared.