EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 19 July 2022 concerning Central Fee Payment
Central Fee Payment will be fully deployed and Online Fee Payment decommissioned on 10 September 2022.
1. As announced in the Official Journal notice dated 2 March 2022 (OJ EPO 2022, A25), Central Fee Payment (CFP) will be fully deployed on 10 September 2022. All remaining functionalities of Online Fee Payment (OFP) not yet migrated to CFP – including the submission of automatic debit orders ‒ will be available there from that date and so OFP will be decommissioned on the same day. You are therefore strongly advised to start using CFP to get acquainted with the service as soon as possible before OFP is decommissioned.
2. This notice is intended as a single point of reference for the functionalities provided by CFP. It therefore includes all still relevant information from previous notices relating to CFP, including OJ EPO 2020, A130, OJ EPO 2021, A61, and OJ EPO 2022, A25, in addition to explaining the newly added functionalities.
I. Access to CFP and conditions for use
3. CFP can be accessed either via a simple registration process with a user name (email address) and password or with an EPO smart card. However, if you want to use the functionality for making payments from a deposit account, you will have to access it using your EPO smart card as only then will this be available at the check-out stage of the payment process. The authorisations for smart cards linked to deposit accounts in OFP will be automatically migrated to CFP and so you do not need to take any action for this.
II. Deposit account management in CFP
4. If you access CFP with your EPO smart card, you can choose between the options to pay fees, claim refunds, manage deposit accounts or manage automatic debit orders. You can then either proceed to your deposit account overview page by selecting Deposit account management or choose the option Manage deposit account user rights to access the standard functionalities1 for assigning or reallocating user rights for your deposit account.
5. The Overview tab shows details of your deposit account as well as your account balance and the total amount due to be debited in the next 40 days (automatic debit orders and debit orders with a deferred payment date) at the time of signing in. If your smart card is linked to multiple deposit accounts, you can choose between the different accounts in the drop-down menu.
6. The Transactions tab shows a list of all transactions booked within the last 40 days. You can access transactions booked within the last two years using the filter function. Pending orders are displayed for the next 40 days. You can switch between booked and pending orders via the associated drop-down menu. While CFP will not automatically issue periodic account statements, you can create individual deposit account statements as needed by defining the required period using the filter menu and then download them in PDF, XML or CSV format. You can also filter your transactions, for example by application number, fee code or procedure (PCT, EP or, once available, UP).
7. In the Rejected payments tab you can see an overview of any payments which have been rejected by the validation functionality at the check-out stage for the selected deposit account. This overview shows the date of the rejection, the application number for which payment was intended, the fee code of the fee to be paid and the reason why the payment was rejected during validation. When viewing rejected payments, you can apply the same filters as are available for past transactions (see point 6).
III. Features and functionalities of Central Fee Payment
8. After selecting the applicable procedure (PCT, EPC or, once available, UP) and entering the application number of the patent application or patent concerned, you can select the fees you intend to pay. You can make batch payments for multiple applications by uploading a file in CSV or XML format. The payment method – credit card,2 bank transfer or deposit account – can be selected as a final step at the check-out stage. The option to pay via deposit account will only be available for selection if you accessed CFP with an EPO smart card.
9. The functionality for paying fees via deposit account, including automatic debit orders, is explained in section (a) below. A description of the specific features of the service follows in sections (b) and (c). The procedure to follow when paying by bank transfer is described in section (d).
(a) Payments via deposit account
10. As of 10 September 2022, you will have access in CFP to the full range of debit orders provided for in the Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA) and their annexes.3 You can submit debit orders and automatic debit orders for fees for one or more applications, i.e. (i) single or batch debit orders, (ii) single or batch automatic debit orders and (iii) debit orders with a deferred payment date.
(i) Single or batch debit orders
11. To pay fees by debit order, select Deposit account as the payment method at the check-out stage (see point 8). All deposit accounts linked to the EPO smart card you used to access CFP will be available for selection in a drop-down menu. You can then select the deposit account from which you want the selected fees to be debited. Once you have selected a deposit account, you will see the balance in that account at the time of accessing CFP.4
12. As soon as you confirm and submit a debit order, the EPO will immediately book the fees from the selected deposit account and a printable order confirmation will be made available in the fee order history. Provided there are sufficient funds in the selected deposit account on the date you submit the order via CFP, that date will be considered the date on which the payment is made. If the debit order contains fee payments for multiple applications, the EPO will book all fees immediately in the order specified under point 7.3 ADA. If there are not enough funds in the deposit account, the EPO will book fees in that order until the available funds have been exhausted. However, the payment will not be considered to have been made and the printable payment confirmation will not be made available until you have adequately replenished the account and all the fees selected for the debit order have been booked in accordance with point 7.4.2 ADA.
13. Instead of selecting individual fees for payment, you can upload fee payment files ("batch payments") by selecting Upload fee payments file in the Fees drop-down menu. Fee payment files can be uploaded in XML format or as CSV files. Once uploaded, you can still edit the fee amounts and add further individual payments by selecting Continue paying fees.
14. To submit batch payments in XML via CFP, you must use the format batch-payment-v2-00.dtd.5 You are therefore strongly encouraged to update your batch payments to this format as soon as possible. If you encounter problems uploading batch payment files, please make sure you are using the correct XML format. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us via the contact form6 if you need assistance. The Multipay Tool for creating batch payments will be decommissioned together with OFP on 10 September 2022.
(ii) Single or batch automatic debit orders
15. As of 10 September 2022, you will be able to submit, revoke and manage your single or batch automatic debit orders in CFP. If you select the option Manage automatic debit orders, you will see an overview of all applications with an active automatic debit order for the selected deposit account. If your smart card is linked to multiple deposit accounts, you can switch to the overview of a different deposit account by selecting it in the related drop-down menu. The list of active automatic debit orders in the overview shows the application number of the European patent application or patent or, once available, European patent with unitary effect concerned, the procedure for which the automatic debit order has been filed (PCT, EP or, once available, UP) and a reference number of your choice.
16. You can revoke an automatic debit order shown in this list by clicking the Revocation button next to the application number and then confirming the revocation. Please note that once the automatic debit order is revoked, no more fees will be booked automatically that have a decisive payment date on or after the date of revocation (see point 10 AAD).
17. To submit a new automatic debit order, select Request new automatic debit order or click Single request in the overview.
18. You can also submit new automatic debit orders or revoke pending automatic debit orders for multiple applications as a batch. To do this, select the option Upload request/revocation file for automatic debit order or click the Batch request/revocation button. Please note that batch request or revocation files for automatic debit orders can only be filed in CSV format.
19. You can access an overview of all automatic debit orders requested and revoked in the past in the Request/revocation history.
(iii) Debit orders with a deferred payment date
20. If you select deposit account as the intended payment method for a debit order at the check-out stage, you can choose a later date than the date of submission as the date you want the order to be executed (deferred payment date). The deferred payment date can be up to 40 days from the date of submission (see point 10.2 ADA). Please note, however, that the deferred payment date applies to all fees selected at the previous stage. If you would like the deferred payment date to apply to specific fees only, you will have to prepare a separate debit order containing only these fees.
21. Once you have submitted the debit order with a deferred payment date, it will be displayed as a pending order in the Transactions tab. You can revoke it in CFP up to one day before your chosen deferred payment date by clicking the Revoke button and then confirming the revocation. You will still be able to revoke on the deferred payment date itself but, for this, you have to follow the procedure laid down in point 13.1 ADA.
(b) Overview of procedural fees (fee group FEES DUE)
22. In CFP, the procedural fees due for the selected patent application or patent are displayed by default based on the information on file. This fee group is labelled FEES DUE in the fee group drop-down menu.
23. The information displayed under this fee group includes the fee code,7 a fee description, the fee amount and the due date. The Due date shown is the last day of the period for making the payment.8 Some fees, such as the examination fee (fee code 006) or the designation fee (fee code 005), are shown without a due date unless the event triggering the calculation of the period for paying the fee has already taken place.
24. Some fees, for example the opposition (fee code 010) and appeal fee (fee code 011), are not displayed under the fee group FEES DUE and must therefore be selected from the relevant fee group.
25. The displayed fee amounts are calculated on the basis of the information on file and you can change them by selecting Edit. This function can, for example, be used if you do not want to pay all of the additional search fees in case there is a finding of non-unity of invention. Be aware, however, that the responsibility for ensuring that the edited fee amounts are correct ultimately lies with you.
(c) Validation functionality
26. CFP includes a validation functionality that automatically rejects orders for fees included in a batch payment or selected individually that would amount to a double payment of fees, the payment of renewal fees (and any associated additional fees) for "definitively closed" applications or granted patents, or payments for transfers of rights in respect of such applications or patents. It also rejects orders for the payment of renewal fees before the applicable earliest valid payment date (Rule 51(1) EPC). A patent application is considered to be definitively closed if (i) the application is withdrawn or is finally deemed to be withdrawn or the application is finally refused and no means of redress other than 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. The validation process takes place at the check-out stage, before the intended payment method is selected.
(d) Procedure for preparing payments by bank transfer
27. In CFP, you can pay for multiple applications in a single bank transfer if you first submit an order for the payment of selected fees and then follow the procedure described below. The bundle of fees selected in the order are then linked to a unique payment reference, which enables the EPO to automatically assign the payment received to the relevant applications, patents and fees selected.
28. If you select Bank transfer as the payment method at the check-out stage and then confirm the order, an order number is generated and displayed together with an order summary. You receive a (printable) order confirmation with a payment reference consisting of the order number, a check digit and a prefix. This payment reference allows the EPO to assign a payment to the fees you selected for one or more applications or patents at the Select group and fees stage. It is therefore essential that the payment reference as shown in the order confirmation be correctly indicated in the bank transfer. The order confirmation shows the order date, the total amount of the selected fees, the name of the user making the order, the application number(s) of the patent application(s) and/or patent(s) concerned, a list of all the individual fees selected for payment and an order status. The order status is Submitted until the payment reaches the EPO's bank account.9 Once the payment is received, the order status is automatically updated to Paid and you can download a payment confirmation via the fee order history function. As soon as the payment confirmation is available, you can be certain that the EPO has received the payment. You can use the payment confirmation as a proof of payment in dealings with third parties, e.g. tax authorities.
29. A payment reference can only be used once and is valid for two months following the order confirmation. If no payment can be assigned to the order within this period, the order will be cancelled automatically. Orders cannot be cancelled by the user. The status of the order will be updated to Cancelled in the fee order history. Payments received for cancelled orders or orders with no or incorrect payment references cannot be assigned automatically to a specific order and will therefore be handled manually by the EPO. Manual handling slows down the processing of the payment and so may cause a delay in the patent grant proceedings. You are therefore strongly advised to make your bank transfers as soon as possible after having confirmed the order.
30. If the payment that reaches the EPO's bank account does not cover the total amount of fees selected in the order, the fees will be booked in ascending order of application numbers (PCT before EP) and in ascending order of fee codes until the payment received has been used up. The payment confirmation will indicate which fees have been paid and which fees have not been paid or have only been paid in part as a result of the underpayment. To ensure the proper reconciliation of bank payments, you must submit a new order to redress any unintended underpayment situation identified in the payment confirmation. The same applies if the number of fees intended for payment changes after finalisation of the order procedure. In this case, you must submit a new order for any additional fees not included in the first order.
31. This notice enters into force on 10 September 2022 and supersedes the notice from the European Patent Office dated 13 July 2021 concerning Central Fee Payment (OJ EPO 2021, A61) and the notice from the European Patent Office dated 2 March 2022 concerning the extension of the functionalities of Central Fee Payment (OJ EPO 2022, A25).
1 For further information on these functionalities, please consult the FAQ on the EPO website at epo.org/applying/online-services/administration/faq.html.
2 For credit card payments, please refer to points 8 to 12 of the notice from the European Patent Office dated 13 May 2020 concerning the payment of fees by credit card (OJ EPO 2020, A62). The conditions laid down in the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 22 August 2017 concerning the payment of fees by credit card (OJ EPO 2017, A72) and the notice from the European Patent Office dated 23 September 2021 concerning the payment of fees by credit card (OJ 2021, A73) continue to apply for credit card payments.
3 Supplementary publication 3, Official Journal 2022, Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA) and their annexes (valid from 10 September 2022)
4 Automatic debit orders are booked at the end of the day on the applicable decisive payment date (see point 4.4 AAD).
5 Further technical information on the format for batch payments is available on the EPO website at epo.org/applying/online-services/fee-payment/batch-payments-documentation.html.
7 See the description of fee codes published in the Schedule of fees and expenses applicable as from 1 April 2022 (OJ EPO 2022, supplementary publication 2). Since the additional fee for a European patent application comprising more than 35 pages (fee codes 501 and 520) forms part of the filing fee, it is booked together with the filing fee.
8 Please note that "due date" is defined differently in the context of CFP from the way it is defined under the EPC, where the "due date" is the first day of the period for making a payment.
9 Payments are to be made in euro to the bank account of the European Patent Office at the Commerzbank, IBAN DE20 7008 0000 0333 8800 00, BIC DRESDEFF700, Commerzbank AG, Leopoldstrasse 230, 80807 Munich, Germany.