To maintain a Unitary Patent, the patent proprietor will have to pay annual renewal fees. Whereas, for classic European patents, several renewal fees, which may vary in amount, have to be paid to different national patent offices operating under different legal requirements, in particular in terms of their deadlines, Unitary Patent proprietors will pay one single renewal fee to the EPO, in one currency and under a single legal regime as regards deadlines and admissible means of payment. This will greatly simplify matters for users.
Fees will be payable to the EPO – in euros – by payment or transfer to a bank account held by the EPO, or by debiting a deposit account held with the EPO. Holders of EPO deposit accounts will also be able to use the EPO's Online Fee Payment service. Any person will be able to pay fees; there will be no need to use a representative.
The renewal fees have been set at a very business-friendly level, corresponding to the combined renewal fees due in the four countries where European patents were most often validated in 2015, when the fee level was agreed by the Select Committee (Germany, France, United Kingdom and the Netherlands).
The fee level is particularly attractive in the early years, with annual fees for maintaining a Unitary Patent for ten years – the current average lifetime of a European patent – amounting to less than EUR 5 000.
|Year ||Unitary Patent (EUR) ||26 member states (EUR)*|
* Based on national renewal fees as at 1 January 2017.
A comparison of the overall costs of a Unitary Patent with those of a classic European patent should consider not only the fees but also the costs associated with the validation and maintenance of a classic European patent. These costs can be considerable and typically include translation costs incurred for validations and the publication fees payable to the various national patent offices, as well as the fees charged by attorneys or other service providers for validation and the payment of national renewal fees.
Based on such a comparison of the overall costs, a Unitary Patent will be less expensive than a European patent validated and maintained in four of the 26 Member States participating in the Unitary Patent system, four being the average number of those countries in which European patents are validated at present. Consequently, the more countries a classic European patent would have been validated in, the more cost-effective a Unitary Patent will be.
For example, the overall costs incurred for a European patent validated in the four countries where patents are currently most often validated (Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy) and maintained for 12 years can amount to EUR 11 850 (estimate based on sample information collected from patent attorneys; with specialised service providers the transactional costs are likely to be somewhat lower).
Although the renewal fees for a Unitary Patent for the same period will be slightly higher, the transactional costs will be lower, bringing the overall cost down to EUR 11 260, which amounts to a 5% saving on the cost of a classic European Patent. That saving will increase to 8% for patents maintained for 15 years.
|Unitary Patent (UP)||Classic European patent (EP) validated and maintained in DE, FR, GB and IT
|Total official fees for years 5-10||4 400||3 745|
|Total external costs* for years 5-10||3 000||3 855|
|Total cost up to year 10||7 400||7 600|
|difference UP vs EP: EUR -200 = -3%|
|Total official fees for years 5-12||7 635||6 585|
|Total external costs* years 5-12||3 625||5 265|
|Total cost up to year 12||11 260||11 850|
|difference UP vs EP: EUR -590 = -5%|
|Total official fees for years 5-15||15 025||13 345|
|Total external costs* for years 5-15||5 105||8 645|
|Total cost up to year 15||20 130||21 990|
|difference UP vs EP: EUR -1 860 = -8%|
|Total official fees for years 5-20||35 270||30 750|
|Total external costs* years 5-20||9 150||17 350|
|Total costs up to year 20||44 420||48 100|
|difference UP vs EP: EUR -3 680 = -8%|
* Attorney costs: translation (24 pages), validation and maintenance of a European patent granted during the 4th year after filing of the application.