5.2.4 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.

Rule 51(1) and Rule 51(2)

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 eExamples: iIf 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 made earlier than three months before the due date which are not valid and will be refunded by the EPO, unless . If payment is made only shortly before the permissible prepayment period, the EPO may elect not to return the payment. In this case, however, the payment will only takes effect on the first day of the permissible prepayment period.

If the renewal fee has not been validly paid on or before the due date, it may still 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, The additional fee can be paid until the last day of the sixth month following the month containing the anniversary of the date of filing (see J 4/91, reasons 2.7). Whilst a notice draws the applicant's attention to the 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)

Last day for payment of the renewal fee (plus additional fee) since the six-month period under Rule 51(2) expires that day

If the applicant requests entry into the regional phase before the expiry of the 31-months period (cf Art. 22 and 39 PCT), in order for the request to become effective the renewal fee in respect of the third year has to be paid if the fee has fallen due earlier under Rule 51(1). If the renewal fee is not paid on the date early processing is requested, the request for early processing will be effective only as from the date on which the renewal fee is paid (and all further requirements necessary on the latter date have been complied with).

The obligation to pay renewal fees terminates with the payment of the renewal fee due in respect of the (patent) year in which the mention of the grant of the European patent is published, see Art. 86(2). "Patent years" are calculated as from the date of filing of the application. The first patent year (Art. 86(1), Art. 141(1)) starts on the date of filing and ends on the same date of the following year. For the second and subsequent years, the patent year starts one day after the anniversary of the date of filing and ends on the same day as the date of filing of the following year.

For eExample of due date and time limits for payment:

15.12.2009 (Tue)

Priority date

02.08.2010 (Mon)

Filing date

31.08.2012 (Fri)

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

31.05.201203.04.2012 (Thu)

First day for validly paying third-year renewal fee

28.02.2013 (Thu)

Last day for validly paying renewal fee (plus additional fee); see J 4/91, reasons 2.7

06.11.2013 (Wed)

Mention of grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin

31.08.2013 (Sat)

Due date for the last renewal fee (fourth year) to be paid to the EPO

02.09.2013

Last day for payment of last renewal fee without additional fee

Example of last renewal fee payable to the EPO:

21.01.2012

Filing date

22.01.2014

Start of third patent year

31.01.2014

Due date for third renewal fee (to be paid to the EPO)

31.10.2014

First day for validly paying fourth-year renewal fee

21.01.2015

Mention of grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin

22.01.2015

Start of fourth patent year

31.01.2015

Due date for fourth renewal fee (no longer to be paid to the EPO; if already paid, to be refunded, see A‑X, 10.1.1)

This means that, for the last renewal fee payable to the EPO, it is not the due date but the beginning of the respective patent year that is decisive. If the mention of the grant of the European patent is published on the anniversary of the date of filing, the renewal fee in respect of the next patent year, which has not yet begun, is no longer payable to the EPO but to the national authorities.

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.

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