Notice from the European Patent Office dated 11 February 2014 concerning revision of the Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes
The Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes have been revised to clarify the debiting procedures or take account of developments in practice and technology since the previous version entered into force on 1 April 2009. Some editorial changes have also been made.
Given the varied nature of the changes, users are recommended to read the individual revised provisions carefully.
The main changes can be summarised as follows.
I. Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA)
A new point 4.3 has been introduced, stipulating that repayments of deposit account balances can only be remitted to the deposit account holder. The purpose of the new provision is to provide a clarificatory legal basis for such repayments, and also to guarantee the security of account holders.
Debiting the account
Due to developments in electronic processing at the EPO, the use of EPO Form 1010 or PCT Form PCT/RO/101 or IPEA/401 for filing debit orders will become mandatory on 1 April 2014. This applies to both individual and collective debit orders (lists), and also to orders filed by letter and not readable electronically. Point 6.2 has been amended accordingly. The automated electronic processes will improve the security, timeliness, quality and transparency of fee payments.
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.
Debit orders can no longer be filed by diskette (point 6.2), because diskettes have become obsolete. In consequence, all references to diskettes have been removed from the ADA, and Annex B.2 has been deleted.
As from 1 April 2014, users will be able to submit debit orders online with deferred execution dates. The fees will then be debited from the deposit account at a later date of the user's choice. This option will be available in both Online Filing and Online Fee Payment, thereby increasing the flexibility offered by both services. A new paragraph has been added to point 6.3 for this purpose.
Administrative fee[ 1 ]
The administrative fee for insufficient funds in deposit accounts is being abolished. It was originally introduced to provide an additional incentive to use deposit accounts by offering their holders a lower penalty in case of late payment.
The main reason for abolition is that the administrative fee overlaps with the additional fees and fees for further processing payable under Rule 51(2) and Article 121(1) EPC. Deposit account holders will in future have the same means of redress as any other users.
Points 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7 ADA, points 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 and 9 of Annex A.1 to the ADA and point 3.7 of Annex B.1 to the ADA have been deleted or amended accordingly.
II. Annex A.2 to the ADA –
Information from the EPO concerning the automatic debiting procedure
Annex A.2 has been updated to reflect the following main developments:
- The Rules relating to Fees prescribe an additional fee, forming part of the filing fee, for divisional applications filed on or after 1 April 2014 in respect of any earlier application which is itself a divisional application (Rule 38(4) EPC, Article 2, item 1b, RFees). [ 2 ]
- Re-introduction of a grace period for the payment of extension fees. [ 4 ]
III. Entry into force of the revised texts
The revised ADA and their annexes enter into force on 1 April 2014.
[ 2 ] See decision of the Administrative Council of 16 October 2013 (OJ EPO 2013, 501).
[ 3 ] See decision of the Administrative Council of 26 October 2010 (OJ EPO 2010, 634) and notice from the EPO dated 5 April 2011 concerning updated Form 1200 and the possibility to waive the right to the communication under Rules 161(1) and (2) and 162 EPC (OJ EPO 2011, 354).
[ 4 ] See notice from the EPO dated 2 November 2009 concerning the re-introduction of a grace period for the payment of extension fees, OJ EPO 2009, 603.