Notice from the European Patent Office dated 29 September 2016 concerning improvements and changes to fee payment via deposit accounts
New features for managing deposit accounts will be available as of 1 November 2016. They will offer more flexibility and safeguards for account holders, and will make account balances more transparent. These improvements form part of the EPO's strategy of streamlining and facilitating payment via deposit accounts.
In 2017, the Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA) will be overhauled to include all recent and upcoming changes, and a consolidated text of the ADA and their annexes will be published.
The main changes and improvements can be summarised as follows.
1. Partial revocation of a debit order
Currently, debit orders may only be revoked as a whole (point 7 ADA). In future, users will also be able to revoke them in part. The EPO will implement the notice of revocation if it is filed on the same day as the debit order is received and if it specifies each fee or expense concerned. The formal requirements will in future apply also to partial revocation. Point 7 ADA has been amended accordingly. [ 1 ]
2. Partial debiting of fees in the event of insufficient funds
Under the previous system, debit orders were not carried out if the funds in the account were not sufficient to cover all the fees indicated in the order. This technical constraint has now been removed, so that fees can in future be debited in a precise order – namely by ascending order of fee codes – as long as the funds allow. [ 2 ] A new point 5.3.4 ADA has been added, explaining this.1
3. Earlier visibility of deposit account replenishments
Replenishments received by the EPO at the end of each business day will be visible in the Online Fee Payment tool (Fee payment tab) the following working day, instead of after 2-3 working days as at present. This improvement will help to provide account holders with financial certainty at the earliest point in time possible.
4. Payment of all PCT-related fees
As indicated in the notice from the EPO dated 17 April 2014, [ 3 ] documents relating to the international application under Rule 89bis.2 PCT may be filed online via the PCT-SFD plug-in in the EPO Online Filing software.
As from 1 November 2016, the payment of all fees related to PCT proceedings at the EPO may be indicated via the online filing PCT-SFD plug-in.