Notice from the European Patent Office dated 20 February 2019 concerning the revision of the administrative fees of the European Patent Office and various related decisions of the President
1. This notice is issued in connection with the decision of the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) dated 20 February 2019[ 1 ] revising the fees and expenses of the EPO, which supersedes his previous decisions on this. [ 2 ]
2. Under Article 3 of the Rules relating to Fees, the President of the Office is empowered to lay down the amount of the administrative fees and expenses.
3. However, the structure of the administrative fees listed in the schedule annexed to the President's decisions on this has not been revised for some time and the EPO's analysis has shown that some of them are either no longer relevant at all or only very rarely applicable. Furthermore, the large number of administrative fee codes is a source of confusion for users and the resulting need for corrective measures places a heavy administrative burden on both them and the EPO.
4. In order to simplify the existing structure of these administrative fees, it has been decided to group some of them together under the same code and to abolish those which have become obsolete. However, the changes made (to the wording of the fee schedule items and their associated codes) do not affect the amounts payable, which remain unchanged.
A. Grouping of certain administrative fees under the same fee code
Registration of licences and other rights
5. The administrative fees for registering licences and other rights and those for cancelling such entries (Rule 23 EPC) are now grouped together under the same fee code 023 in a newly worded item 2 of point 2.1 of the fees schedule (i.e. former code 024 for cancellation has been merged with code 023). This new item 2 thus now covers:
– Registration of licences and other rights or cancellation of such a registration (Rule 23 EPC).
Issue of certified copies
6. All administrative fees for the issue of any type of certified copy are now grouped together under the same fee code 029 in a single item 3 of the list of administrative fees. The newly worded item 3 now covers the issue of:
– a certified copy of a European patent application or an international application and a certificate stating the filing date (priority document) (Rule 54 EPC; Rules 17.1(b) and 21.2 PCT) (code 029 unchanged)
– a certified copy of the European patent certificate with specification attached (Rule 74 EPC) (former code 025 merged with code 029) and
– other certified documents, including a certified copy of an extract from the European Patent Register (former code 080 merged with code 029).
B. Abolition of certain outdated administrative fees
Extracts from the European Patent Register (Rule 143 EPC)
7. Documents in the European Patent Register are available online without charge on the EPO's website. The administrative fee for obtaining extracts from the Register (code 026) has therefore become obsolete and been abolished accordingly. The EPO may still issue such an extract, now free of charge, but only in exceptional cases after submission of a duly substantiated request. A certified copy of an extract from the Register will be issued on written request and subject to payment of the applicable administrative fee (code 029).
Online inspection of patent applications and patents
8. According to Rule 145(1) EPC, file inspection can be carried out by viewing either the original document, or copies thereof, or a technical means of storage. In addition, pursuant to Rule 145(2) EPC, the President of the Office determines all file-inspections arrangements, including the circumstances in which an administrative fee is payable. The procedures for inspecting files have until now been laid down in a decision of the President dated 12 July 2007 (OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, J.2). However, published patent applications are now inspected almost exclusively online through the EPO website. This service is available free of charge.
9. In view of the now very limited number of requests for file inspection on paper copies, the administrative fee payable (code 027) for providing paper copies (up to 100 A4 pages) or an electronic storage medium with a copy of the file has been abolished by the President's latest decision revising fees.
10. The above-mentioned decision of the President on the inspection of files has been amended accordingly. [ 3 ] In particular, Article 2 has been reworded to remove the legal basis for charging this administrative fee. Paper copies of files will be provided for inspection only in exceptional cases after submission of a duly substantiated request.
11. Furthermore, the related decision of the President dated 14 February 2018 concerning the online file inspection of documents contained in the file held by the EPO as receiving Office, International Searching Authority or Authority specified for the supplementary search (OJ EPO 2018, A14) has also been amended, [ 4 ] in particular so as to abolish the administrative fee formerly payable under Article 4 for the issue of paper copies of such documents.
12. Finally, since files are available for online inspection on its website, the EPO will no longer process requests for transmission of file documents by fax. Accordingly, the additional charges per page for transmission by fax in and outside Europe (code 059) have been abolished by the President's latest decision revising fees.
Issue of acknowledgement of receipt by fax
13. At present, the vast majority of documents are filed online (using the EPO's Online Filing software, new Online Filing application (CMS), web-form filing service or ePCT filing service). Electronic acknowledgment of receipt is generated instantly.
14. Since very few requests for acknowledgement of receipt by fax are now received, the President's latest decision revising fees has abolished the administrative fee (code 031) formerly payable for this.
15. The decision of the President concerning the filing of patent applications and other documents by facsimile (OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, A.3) has been amended accordingly. [ 5 ] In particular, Article 8(4) has been deleted and EPO will in principle no longer acknowledge receipt by fax.
16. The notice from the EPO dated 2 November 2010 concerning the revised procedure for acknowledging receipt of international applications filed in paper form (OJ EPO 2010, 642), in particular its section II, has similarly been amended. [ 6 ]
C. Unchanged administrative fees
17. The other administrative fees listed in point 2.1 of the schedule of fees annexed to the President's decision remain unchanged. These fees are charged for:
– registration of a transfer (code 022)
– communication of information contained in the file of a European patent application (code 030)
– an additional copy of the documents cited in the European search report (code 055).
18. The fee items listed in point 2.1 of the schedule have been renumbered to reflect the changes set out above. The list of fees and charges for various searches contained in point 2.2 of the schedule remains unchanged.
[ 2 ] Decisions of the President of the European Patent Office dated 13 December 2013 revising the Office's fees and expenses (OJ EPO 2014, A13) and dated 16 December 2015 revising the fee for an international-type search (OJ EPO 2016, A4).
[ 4 ] Decision of the President of the EPO dated 20 February 2019 concerning online file inspection of documents contained in the file held by the EPO as receiving Office, International Searching Authority or Authority specified for supplementary search (OJ EPO 2019, A17).