Numerous European patent applicants and proprietors have informed the European Patent Office (EPO) that firms and individuals have sent them invoices inviting them to pay for the publication and/or registration of their applications and patents. Similar reports have been received from applicants who have filed international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT applications).
These firms and individuals use names, abbreviations and/or logos designed to make it appear that the invoice has been issued by an official source. In some cases, they use ones bearing a confusing similarity to those of the EPO or WIPO in an attempt to give the impression that they are acting on those organisations' behalf.
Examples of invoices received in relation to European patent applications and patents can be found below.
Information on and examples of invoices received in relation to PCT applications can be found on the WIPO website.
Despite the misleading official look of such invoices, the services offered by these firms are unrelated to the processing of European patent applications and PCT applications by the EPO and WIPO. There is therefore no obligation to pay any invoice issued by these firms for the processing of your patent application by the EPO and WIPO. Moreover, any payment made to these firms will have no legal effect whatsoever in proceedings under the EPC and the PCT.
As regards the publication of European and PCT applications and European patents, please note the following:
Only the EPO can publish and register European patent applications and patents with legal effect, and it does so automatically.
Similarly, the International Bureau of WIPO alone is responsible for the international publication of PCT applications. The international filing fee to be paid to the receiving Office within one month of filing the PCT application covers the cost of such publication, and no separate fee is payable (Rule 15 PCT).
The EPO advises you to read carefully the content of any invitation to make payments in relation to your patent applications and patents. In particular, it strongly recommends that you check the payment subject and the bank account number appearing in the invoice. You can find the details of the only EPO bank account to which payments can validly be made and a complete list of fees and expenses payable to the EPO, together with their current rates, in supplementary publication 2, OJ EPO 2018, "Schedule of fees and expenses of the EPO" (for PCT-related fees, see p. 20).
If in doubt as to the legitimacy of any invitation or invoice received, please contact your legal representative, the EPO in Munich (+49 89 2399-5318 or email@example.com) or WIPO (+41 22 338 83 38 or firstname.lastname@example.org).