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Guidelines for Examination

Renewal fees 

Renewal fees for a European patent application in respect of the coming year are due on the last day of the month containing the anniversary of the date of filing of the European patent application. Renewal fees may not be validly paid more than three months before they fall due. When a renewal fee is due on the last day of the month according to Rule 51(1), the start of the three-month period for early payment is illustrated by the following examples: If a European application has a filing date in November 2008, according to Rule 51(1) the renewal fee for the third year has a due date of 30 November 2010 and the earliest date for payment is 31 August 2010; if a European application has a filing date in May 2009, according to Rule 51(1) the renewal fee for the third year has a due date of 31 May 2011 and the earliest date for payment is 28 February 2011. Renewal fee payments which are not valid will be refunded by the EPO. If payment is made only shortly before the permissible prepayment period, the EPO may elect not to return the payment. In this case, however, payment only takes effect on the first day of the permissible prepayment period.

If the renewal fee has not been paid on or before the due date, it may be validly paid within six months of the said date, provided that the additional fee is paid within this period. For the calculation of the additional period, see J 4/91. Whilst a notice draws the applicant's attention is drawn to thisthe possibility under Rule 51(2) and Article 2(1), No. 5, RFees, he may not invoke the omission of such notification (see J 12/84 and J 1/89). For renewal fees for European divisional applications see A-IV, 1.4.3.

For Euro-PCT applications, if the renewal fee in respect of the third year would have fallen due earlier under Rule 51(1), it does not fall due until expiry of the 31st month, i.e. on the last day of the 31-month period under Rule 159(1). This deferred due date, and hence the expiry of another period (the 31-month period), forms the basis for calculating the additional period for payment of the renewal fee with an additional fee (see J 1/89, the principles of which apply). For example:

12.05.2008 (Mon)

Priority date

12.11.2008 (Wed)

Filing date

30.11.2010 (Tues)

Due date for third-year renewal fee under Rule 51(1)

12.12.2010 (Sun)

EPO closed

13.12.2010 (Mon)

Expiry of 31-month period under Rule 159(1) (extended under Rule 134(1))

13.06.2011 (Mon)

Expiry of six-month period under Rule 51(2)

The obligation to pay renewal fees terminates with the payment of the renewal fee due in respect of the year in which the mention of the grant of the European patent is published (Art. 86(2); see OJ EPO 1984, 272).

Special provisions apply with regard to the due date for renewal fees in respect of cases where there is a successful request for re-establishment of rights under Art. 122 or a successful petition for review of a decision of the Board of Appeal under Art. 112a.