As from 1 April 2014 the administrative fee for insufficient funds on the deposit account is abolished. The administrative fee was introduced in the early 80s to promote the use of deposit accounts as payment method by granting exclusively to their holders a lower late-payment penalty fee in case of insufficient deposit accounts funds, and to let the applicant keep the original submission or due date as the payment date for debit orders for fees.
This change, along with various others, was made as part of the revision of the Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes and was announced in a Notice from the EPO dated 11 February 2014 (Official Journal Supplementary publication 4, 2014) and in Official Journal 2014, A26. The present list of frequently asked questions is intended to provide additional information on the abolition of the administrative fee and on the other main changes resulting from the revision. This list of questions is meant to serve as general information, without prejudice to the competence of the departments entrusted with the procedure.
Nowadays the speed and reliability of cross-border bank transfers have considerably improved, and the EPO Online Services have significantly increased the transparency of the accounts.
Furthermore, the administrative fee overlapped with the penalty system according to Rule 51(2) EPC (additional fees) and existing legal remedies under Articles 121 and 122 EPC (further processing/re-establishment of rights), thereby putting deposit accounts holders in a more advantageous situation than bank payers.
Abolition of the administrative fee will ensure equal treatment for all users, since applying the penalty fees in accordance with Rule 51(2) EPC and existing legal remedies under Articles 121 and 122 EPC means that all users will be treated according to the same rules if they fail to pay fees within the relevant time limits, regardless of the payment method used.
Due to the elimination of the double penalty system, transparency and clarity will be increased for deposit account holders.
Finally, there will be no more retroactive bookings and distortions of account balances due to changes of the payment dates.
You should always ensure that your deposit account contains sufficient funds, especially if you use the automatic debiting procedure because under this procedure the fees are generally debited on the last day of the period for payment.
According to Point 5.2 ADA, responsibility for timely account replenishment lies with the deposit account holder. This requirement is comparable to a bank account holder assuming that payments are debited only if the account balance sufficiently covers the payment amount.
However, if you assess the risk of having a shortfall of funds in critical situations as too high for you to manage, you could consider arranging bank transfers for the payment of specific fee codes. In this case, reference is made to the provisions of Article 7(3) of the Rules relating to Fees.
The debit order will not be carried out. You will be immediately informed with amended Form 9004 and invited to replenish the account. The date of payment will be the date of replenishment. If the date of payment is after the time limit for paying the fee, the general provisions of the EPC will apply.
The best way is to use electronic payment methods only (payments via Online Filing, Online Fee Payment or automatic debiting procedure), because these will be processed faster than manual debit orders. Furthermore, pending online debit orders can be seen in the Online Fee Payment tool, displaying the actual deposit account balance (excluding pending replenishments). Where manual debit orders are used, these are visible on the deposit account only when effectively booked by the EPO. Due to postal submission this can in general take up to five days. Therefore, to assure sufficient deposit account funds, deposit account holders have themselves to keep track of manual debit orders or keep a buffer of funds on their account.
You can find help and guidelines on the Online fee payment page.
Yes. Comparable to online banking, the EPO Online Services in the Online Fee Payment tool provide several functions for monitoring sufficient deposit account funding and helping to keep track of the account balance.
In particular, the Fee Payment Plan gives you an overview of the payments which are due to be deducted from your deposit account under the automatic debiting procedure within the next 40 days. This allows you to ensure that your account balance is sufficient to cover the fees due.
Furthermore, the Online Fee Payment tool provides you with a complete overview of the pending orders submitted online (via both OLFP and OLF).
Finally, from 1 April 2014, both the Online Filing and Online Fee Payment services will allow you to select a deferred execution date for payments. This functionality aims to support you with your cash management.
In order to increase the flexibility of the online fee payment systems, as from 1 April 2014 users will be able to submit a debit order with a deferred execution date. Fees will then be debited from the deposit account at a later date according to the user’s choice and not only on the actual calendar date of the submission of the order, as has been the case so far.
This option will be available both in Online Filing and in Online Fee Payment, but not when submitting a manual debit order using the EPO's standard payment forms.
The deposit account holder may select a future date for the actual execution of his order within a maximum of 40 days after the submission date. This time frame will enable the payer for example to easily make use of the 30-day period for paying the basic fees after filing a new European application in OLF.
Under Point 7 ADA, the notice of revocation of any debit order is effective only if received by the EPO on the date on which the debit order is submitted (until midnight). Such a revocation order needs to be faxed to the central Munich fax number (+49 (0)89 2399 4465), indicating the application number and amount concerned and requesting that the debit order should not be processed.
It is possible to defer the payment date for all online debit orders, regardless of whether they are single debit orders in OLF and OLFP or batch debit orders in OLFP.
This means that from 1 April 2014 onwards, any manual debit orders will have to be submitted on standard payment forms, i.e. EPO Form 1010 and PCT Forms PCT/RO/101 and IPEA/401. This applies to individual debit orders, payment lists and debit orders by letter. In case of payment lists (e.g. for renewal fees), it is recommended that you use the batch payment functionality of the OLFP tool.
This change has no impact on debit orders submitted online via Online Filing or Online Fee Payment tools.
The EPO has developed an optical reading system in order to speed up the booking process for manual debit orders. Standard forms (EPO Form 1010 and PCT Forms PCT/RO/101 and IPEA/401) are a prerequisite for this system. Implementation of this system will have positive effects for users, since the security, timeliness, quality and transparency of fee payments will be substantially increased.
Failure to use the above forms will delay processing considerably, although payers will keep the original submission date as payment date. In such cases, however, for processing purposes, from 1 April 2014 onwards debit orders are to be resubmitted using the standard forms.