EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 19 February 2019 amending the Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA)
Deposit accounts are made available solely for paying fees, not for paying expenses and prices. Point 1 ADA has therefore been amended as follows:
"1. General provisions
Under Articles 5(2) and 7(2) of its Rules relating to Fees (RFees), the EPO makes available, for any interested natural or legal person (or bodies equivalent to a legal person under the law applicable to them), deposit accounts for paying fees to the EPO. Deposit accounts are kept in euro only, at EPO headquarters in Munich."
After the close of the financial year, account holders receive an account balance confirmation by post. Current point 4.2 ADA has been amended to reflect this service:
"4.2 Account holders can inspect their pending orders, payment plan and transactions performed, download their statements and monitor their account balances via Online Fee Payment. Additionally, once the financial year has closed, a balance confirmation stating the year-end balance of the deposit account is sent by post to the deposit account holder. Any errors noted must be notified to the EPO without delay. The EPO checks this information and makes any corrections necessary, retroactively to the original decisive payment date."
Point 4 ADA has been amended to include a new point 4.3 on the conditions of operating the deposit account. It reads as follows:
"4.3 A deposit account showing a zero balance with no transactions recorded in the last four years will be closed ex-officio by the EPO.
A deposit account showing a positive balance with no transactions recorded in the last four years will be set ex-officio to inactive by the EPO."
Point 5.2 ADA has been amended to clarify the order in which the EPO processes debit orders that are received or that are to be executed on the same day.
"5.2 Order of priority for processing debit orders
5.2.1 The EPO processes debit orders that are received or that are to be executed on the same day in the following order of priority:
(a) automatic debit orders,
(b) any other debit orders.
Subject to this, debit orders are booked in ascending order of application number ("PCT" before "EP"). For Euro-PCT applications, the EP number is the relevant number.
5.2.2 If, on the date of receipt of the debit order or on the date specified under point 5.4.1, second paragraph, the account does not contain sufficient funds to cover all the fees indicated for an application (shortfall), the fees are booked in ascending order of the fee codes, as long as the funds allow. Once a debit order cannot be executed in full due to insufficient funds, no other debit order is booked until the account is duly replenished. The holder is informed accordingly by fax or email.
5.2.3 Upon replenishment, the EPO processes any pending debit orders in the order of their decisive payment date or their date of receipt and the order of priority under point 5.2.1 and 5.2.2. Outstanding payments are considered to have been made on the date on which the deposit account is duly replenished.
5.2.4 As a rule, the EPO books debit orders within two to three working days after the decisive payment date of the fee to be debited automatically or the date of receipt of the debit order.
Deposit account holders should ensure that their account always contains sufficient funds to cover all debit orders submitted."
The validation functionality in Online Fee Payment has been extended and will apply to the category of payments defined below. A new Annex A.3 listing the fees excluded from the double-payment validation functionality has been introduced. Current point 5.3 ADA has been amended accordingly as follows:
"5.3 Validation and rejection of payments in Online Fee Payment
5.3.1 Debit orders included in a batch or individual debit order that relate to:
(i) the payment of renewal fees for 'definitively closed' European patent applications or granted patents
(ii) the payment of renewal fees made before the earliest valid payment dates under Rule 51(1) EPC
(iii) double-payment of fees except those listed in Annex A.3 to the ADA
(iv) the payment of fees for transfer of rights for 'definitively closed' European patent applications
will be automatically rejected.
5.3.2 For the above purposes, a European patent application is considered to be definitively closed if the loss of rights or the refusal of the application has become final, i.e. in particular if
(i) the application is withdrawn, deemed to be withdrawn or refused and no means of redress, except a request for re-establishment of rights, has been filed,
(ii) the decision on the means of redress is negative and no appeal has been filed, or
(iii) the decision on the appeal is negative or the appeal is withdrawn.
5.3.3 A message confirming that the debit order could not be carried out is generated by the system after validation and stored in the account history. The confirmation of rejection is also uploaded to the public part of the Office's electronic file."
Entry into force
This decision enters into force on 1 April 2019.
Done at Munich, 19 February 2019
Annex A.3 to the ADAs ‒ Fees excluded from the double-payment validation functionality
The following fee codes relate to payments that can be made several times during the proceedings before the EPO. They are therefore excluded from the double-payment validation:
International search fee (PCT)
Additional printing fee for 36th and each subsequent page
Fee for re-establishment of rights
Claims fee (Rule 45(1) EPC)
Claims fee (Rule 71(4) EPC)
Fee for the awarding of costs (Rule 88(3) EPC)
Fee for the conservation of evidence
Fee for preliminary international examination (PCT)
Registration of transfer
Registration or cancellation of licenses and other rights
Certified copy (application, priority document, patent certificate, other documents)
Additional copy of documents cited in the search report
Surcharge under Article 7(3) RFees
Protest fee (PCT)
Late payment fee (Rule 16bis.2 PCT)
Late payment fee (Rule 58bis.2 PCT)
Fee for late furnishing of sequence listing (R. 30(3) EPC)
Review fee for a supplementary international search
Fee for petition for review
Fee for further processing (Rule 71(3) EPC)
Fee for further processing (non-fee related cases)
Fee for further processing (late payment of a fee – 50% of the relevant fee)
PCT charge per sheet in excess of 30
Surcharge for extension fees
Additional filing fee for the 36th and each subsequent page – EP application
Additional filing fee for the 36th and each subsequent page – entry into EP phase