https://www.epo.org/en/node/upon-entering-european-phase-i-plan-submit

Upon entering the European phase, I plan to submit an amended set of claims. I will remove a number of claims from the original international application and pay fees for the remaining ones. Will the former be deemed abandoned under R 162(4) EPC?

No. Claims fees are due only for claims which are still in the application documents on which the European grant procedure is to be based (Rule 162(1) EPC). They must be paid for the 16th and each subsequent claim within the 31-month period (Rules 162(1) and 159(1) EPC). If they are not paid in due time, i.e. within the 31-month period, they may still be paid within an additional period of six months set in the communication under Rule 162(2) EPC. If they are still not paid in due time, i.e. within the additional six-month period, these claims will be deemed to be abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC. Rule 162 EPC thus uses the term “due time” twice, in paragraphs 2 and 4, to refer to two different periods. Deemed abandonment occurs only if claims fees are not paid within the additional six-month period.

This is illustrated by the following examples:

(A) The international application comprised 25 claims. Before expiry of the 31-month period, claims 21-25 are deleted (i.e. an amended set of 20 claims is filed within the 31-month period) and five claims fees (for claims 16-20) are paid.

(B) The international application comprised 25 claims. After expiry of the 31-month period, but before expiry of the six-month period set in the communication under Rule 162(2) EPC, claims 21-25 are deleted (i.e. an amended set of 20 claims is filed) and five claims fees (for claims 16-20) are paid.

In both examples (A) and (B), claims 21-25 will not be deemed to be abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC. They were deleted before expiry of the additional six-month period, and claims fees were paid for claims 16-20. Thus, on expiry of the additional six-month period the application documents on which the European grant procedure is to be based contained no claims for which claims fees due had not been paid.

In the following situations, on the other hand, claims will be deemed to be abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC:

(C) The international application comprised 25 claims. Before expiry of the six-month period set in the communication under Rule 162(2) EPC, no amendments are made and five claims fees (for claims 16-20) are paid. Claims 21-25, for which no claims fees have been paid within the period under Rule 162(2) EPC, are deemed to be abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC.

(D) The international application comprised 25 claims. Before expiry of the six-month period set in the communication under Rule 162(2) EPC, an amended set of 22 claims is filed and five claims fees (for claims 16-20) are paid. Claims 21 and 22, for which no claims fees have been paid within the period under Rule 162(2) EPC, are deemed to be abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC.

Features of a claim deemed abandoned under Rule 162(4) EPC which are not otherwise to be found in the description or drawings cannot subsequently be reintroduced into the application, in particular the claims. “Deemed to be abandoned” means that the application is processed as if it had never contained the claims for which the applicant did not pay claims fees.

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