The maximum term of a European patent is 20 years from its filing date. The patent may lapse earlier if the annual renewal fees are not paid or if the patent is revoked by the patentee or after opposition proceedings. In certain cases (medical or plant protection product patents) it is possible to extend the period of protection.
Yes, in two ways:
In proceedings before the European Patent Office, following publication of a European patent application, any person may submit observations concerning the patentability of the invention to which that application or the granted patent relates. These observations must be filed in writing in English, French or German and must include a statement of the grounds on which they are based. There are no fees for presenting such observations. We advise using the official EPO web-based filing form, which has been designed to help you to formulate your observations in a structured and concise manner. It is available free of charge from the EPO website. Filing observations does not make you a party to any official proceedings the EPO undertakes, and you will not be informed by the EPO about the further outcome of the patent grant proceedings. However, it is important to note that submissions filed as third-party observations will be placed in the public part of the file of the patent application or patent and will thus be accessible to the public. The observations are communicated to the patent applicant/proprietor, who may comment on them.
For further details see:
Requests for the grant of a European patent must be filed on the form prescribed by the European Patent Office (EPO Form 1001). This should be accompanied (where applicable - i.e. where the applicant is not the inventor or is not the sole inventor) by a "Designation of the inventor" form (EPO Form 1002). An "Authorisation" (EPO Form 1003) may also be required (see "Representation" below).
European patent applications must contain:
If you do not have either a residence or a place of business within the territory of an EPC contracting state ("non-resident applicants") you must be represented by a professional representative and act through them in all proceedings, other than in filing the European patent application. You can find a professional representative in the database of professional representatives.
Cost of a European patent application
The following fees are payable upon filing a European patent application.
For divisional applications filed in respect of any earlier application which is itself a divisional application (Rule 38(4) EPC):
The above fees are due within one month of filing the European patent application.
Further fees are due if you decide that you wish to pursue the application after receiving the European search report.
Where to file
Our filing offices are located in Munich, Berlin and The Hague. You may also file by fax or online, using one of the EPO online filing tools.
The EPO's postal addresses and fax numbers can be found on the Contact page.
For further information on how to file a European patent application and on the European patent grant procedure, see The European Patent Guide - How to get a European patent, as well as Notes on EPO Form 1001 and the current Schedule of fees and expenses.
The European patent grant procedure takes about three to five years from the date your application is filed. It is made up of two main stages. The first comprises a formalities examination, the preparation of the search report and the preliminary opinion on whether the claimed invention and the application meet the requirements of the EPC. The second involves substantive examination.
When seeking patent protection in one or more EPO member states, you can choose either to follow the national procedure in each state or to take the European route, which confers protection in all the contracting states in a single procedure.
If you want to patent your invention in one particular country only, it is advisable to file your application at the national patent office of the country concerned.
If you decide that you want a European patent, you have the choice between the direct European route and the Euro-PCT route. With the direct European route, the entire procedure is governed by the EPC alone. With the Euro-PCT route, the first phase of the grant procedure (the international phase) is subject to the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty), while the regional phase before the EPO as designated or elected Office is governed primarily by the EPC.
For further details see the European Patent Guide and the Euro-PCT Guide.
In order to initiate the European phase you must fulfil a number of requirements within 31 months of the filing date or, if priority has been claimed, the earliest priority date. More details can be found in the Euro-PCT Guide, point 5.2 ff.
Yes. If you or your predecessor in title have filed an application for either a patent or the registration of a utility model or a utility certificate in or for any state party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property or any member of the World Trade Organization, you may claim priority when filing a European patent application in respect of the same invention. You must do so within 12 months of the date of filing of the first application.
If the previous application was filed in an EPC contracting state, you can also designate that state in the European application. The previous application whose priority you claim may also be a European or international (PCT) application.
For further details see the European Patent Guide, point 4.1.017 ff.
If you have either a residence or a place of business within the territory of an EPC contracting state you are not obliged to be represented by a professional representative (European patent attorney). If you do not have either a residence or a place of business within the territory of an EPC contracting ("non-resident"), you may file a European patent application but must appoint a professional representative and act through them afterwards. Fees may be paid by anybody.
Patent grant procedures are highly complex, so if you are not experienced in patent matters, we strongly recommend consulting a professional representative.
Representation may also be undertaken by any legal practitioner qualified in one of the EPC contracting states and having their place of business within that state, to the extent that they are entitled in that state to act as a professional representative in patent matters.
Further details can be found in the European Patent Guide, point 4.1.023 ff.
Yes. For European patent applications, provided the requirements under Article 80 EPC and Rule 40 EPC are met, a filing date is also accorded for days on which the EPO is closed (see Rule 40(1) EPC). For international applications, the same applies, provided that the requirements of Article 11(1) PCT are met. If you use one of the EPO's online filing tools – the simplest way to file an application from anywhere at any time – an acknowledgement of receipt is automatically issued on submission; the date of receipt indicated in the acknowledgement will be the accorded filing date, provided that the applicable requirements are met.
The following options for filing applications with the EPO ensure that the filing date is the date of successful submission, irrespective of the time, including on a day the EPO is closed and outside office hours:
If your European patent application or international application must be filed within the priority year, and the day on which the 12-month period expires is a Saturday, a Sunday or a public holiday at one of the EPO filing offices, the period is extended to the next day on which all the EPO filing offices are open.
Under certain circumstances, periods are also extended in the event of a planned or unplanned outage of one of the online filing tools permitted by the EPO (Rule 134(1) EPC, Rule 82quater.2 PCT), a general dislocation in the delivery or transmission of mail in a contracting state (Rule 134(2) EPC, Rule 82quater.1 PCT) or an exceptional occurrence, such as a natural disaster (Rule 134(5) EPC, Rule 82quater.1 PCT).
Where the second filing is a European patent application, and provided the requirements under Rule 134(1), (2) or (5) EPC are met, the 12-month time limit is extended, meaning that you can file the application after expiry of the priority year without losing your right to priority. However, where the second filing is an international application, note that the excuses of delay in meeting time limits under Rule 82quater.1 and quater.2 PCT do not apply to the priority period. Users can nevertheless request restoration of the priority right under Rule 26bis.3 PCT.
In the case of a first filing, it may be important for you that your application is filed on a certain day, irrespective of whether it is a day on which the EPO is closed. Therefore, you should be aware of alternatives in the exceptional event that one of the EPO's filing options is not available on the day you intend to file your application. You should know too that the extension of periods under Rule 134 EPC is not applicable since, in the case of a first filing, no period under the EPC is missed. Similarly, the excuses of delay in meeting time limits under Rule 82quater PCT are not applicable since no time limit fixed in the Regulations under the PCT is missed. The following is a list of alternative EPO filing options from which you can choose if one or more of them is unavailable.
Planned or unplanned outages of one of the EPO's four online filing tools – Online Filing (OLF), Online Filing 2.0, CMS and Web-Form Filing – normally concern only one of them at a time and should rarely last longer than eight hours. Maintenance work is usually carried out at the weekend. You should therefore check our dedicated web pages for any scheduled outages if you intend to file at a weekend: availability of online services and outages of online filing and fee payment services.
If your preferred online filing tool is not available on the day you need to file your first filing, you can use one of the three other online filing options. It is important that you have registered your smart card for all online filing tools that require authentication via smart card (OLF, Online Filing 2.0 and CMS) and that you have registered for Web-Form Filing (no smart card required). This will ensure that you can quickly choose between the EPO's online filing tools without any extra administrative burden and loss of time. To find out whether the outage is attributable to the EPO or to your working environment, and act accordingly, contact the EPO's Customer Services or check these dedicated web pages: availability of online services and outages of online filing and fee payment services. If you wish to file an international application, in addition to the above-mentioned EPO online filing tools, you may also use ePCT, information on which is available on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Alternatives to online filing
If the online filing problems are caused by your online working environment, or in the exceptional event that none of the above-mentioned online filing tools is available, you may file your application in one of the following ways:
If you are located near the central industrial property office of a contracting state to the European Patent Convention, and if the law of that contracting state so permits, you may also file your European patent application directly at that central industrial property office (Article 75(1)(b) EPC). If it is possible to file or hand in documents that day and to receive a same-day date stamp for your application documents, that day will become the filing date (Rule 35 EPC). The central industrial property office will forward the application to the EPO in the shortest possible time (Rule 37 EPC).
If you intend to file a European divisional application, the decisive factor is whether the parent application is still pending on the day the divisional application is filed. Since the pendency of an application is not a time limit, Rule 134 EPC does not apply to the filing of divisional applications. Thus, the information above on alternative filing options for first filings applies to divisional applications too, with the exception that divisional applications may only be filed at the EPO filing offices (Article 76(1) EPC).
Further details and examples regarding the scope of application of Rule 134 EPC are provided in the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO E-VIII, 188.8.131.52.
Fees are charged for filing (including, if applicable, an additional fee for the 36th and each subsequent page), search, designation of contracting states, claims (if more than fifteen), examination and grant and printing. Renewal fees are also payable for the third year and each subsequent year after the date of filing until a European patent is granted or until the proceedings have otherwise been closed.
The filing and search fees due at the beginning of the procedure currently amount to about EUR 1 520 (or EUR 1 660 if the application is filed on paper). The remaining fees are payable later. That gives applicants the opportunity to decide at each stage of the procedure whether or not to continue with their application. As a rough guide, it currently costs on average EUR 6 025 (or EUR 6 165 if the application is filed on paper) to take a patent application through to the grant stage.
At the post-grant stage, competence is transferred to the contracting states designated in the European patent. In some contracting states, costs may be incurred for validation of the European patent there. In order to maintain the patent, renewal fees must be paid in each designated state in which the European patent has been validated. The amount of the renewal fee varies from state to state.
The overall cost of obtaining a European patent may also include fees for the services of a patent attorney. Further details of these costs can be obtained from any patent attorney authorised to act as a professional representative before the EPO (see the searchable database of professional representatives on this website).
No, the EPO does not provide any assistance with licensing, funding, or finding venture-capital partners. Helpful websites can be found in our useful links collection.
Fees due to the EPO may be paid by debiting your deposit account held with the EPO, by bank transfer to the EPO’s bank account or by credit card. For more information see the “Fee payments and refunds” on this website.
Beware of fake invoices from firms and individuals requesting the payment of fees for the registration or publication of a patent application. Check the payment subject and bank account number on the invoice and compare it against the EPO’s bank account on our Fee payments and refunds page and list of fees and expenses.
Visit www.epo.org/warning for further information and examples and who to contact if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of an invitation or invoice.
Enquiries about the progress of a file must be made online using EPO Form 1012, which can be downloaded free of charge from the EPO website.
For further information see:
Your application will be published 18 months after the filing date or the earliest priority date. You may, however, request that it be published earlier.
For further details see the European Patent Guide, point 5.3 ff.
Requests to register a change of address for the applicant or patent proprietor must be submitted to the EPO in writing, quoting the application or patent number(s) concerned. Where appropriate, you can indicate that the change of address affects all the applications/patents belonging to the applicant/patent proprietor. In that case, you do not have to submit a list of the individual applications/patents concerned. The request must simply state that the change of address relates to all the applications/patents owned by the applicant/proprietor.
We recommend that you use EPO Form F5051.
There is no fee payable.
A change of address can be registered in the European Patent Register as long as proceedings are pending before the EPO, and until expiry of the opposition period (see Article 99(1) EPC).
For further information see:
European patent applications have to designate the inventor. If the applicant is not the inventor or is not the sole inventor, the designation must contain a statement indicating the origin of the right to the European patent. Unless they waive this right before completion of the preparations for the publication of the European patent application, the inventor will be mentioned in the published European patent application, the European patent specification, the European Patent Register and the European Patent Bulletin.
Incorrect designations may be rectified provided that a request to this effect is received, accompanied by the consent of the wrongly designated person and the consent of the applicant for or proprietor of the patent where the request is not filed by that party. If an additional inventor is designated, the consent of the inventor(s) previously designated is not necessary. You can request rectification after the proceedings before the EPO are terminated.
Where an incorrect designation has been rectified after publication, the rectification or cancellation will also be published in the European Patent Register or European Patent Bulletin. The national patent offices will be informed accordingly. However, a new patent certificate/specification will not be issued by the EPO since the inventor was not known at the date of grant.
Note: Requests to register a change of country and place of residence of the inventor can be made in writing at any time. You do not have to pay a fee or use a special form.
The Legal Division has sole responsibility for rectifying the designation of an inventor pursuant to Rule 21 EPC once an adverse decision seems likely (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013 concerning the responsibilities of the Legal Division, OJ EPO 2013, 600).
For further information see:
Licences in respect of European patent applications are recorded in the European Patent Register upon request of an interested party, for example the licensee or licensor. There is no prescribed form for registering a licence. Requests must, however, be filed in writing with supporting evidence, for example a copy of the contractual agreement signed by both parties, an extract thereof or some other official document. A declaration signed by both parties is also sufficient. Documentary evidence may be filed in any language. The EPO may, however, require a translation into one of its official languages to be filed. The request must be signed by an entitled party. We recommend using EPO Form 5070.
An administrative fee is payable for each application concerned (see Schedule of fees and expenses of the EPO, fee code 023).
The document filed in support of the request must contain the following information:
Exclusive licences may also be recorded pursuant to Rule 24(a) EPC. In such cases, the registration must be requested by both parties.
Sub-licences may also be recorded, provided that the main licence has been registered (Rule 24(b) EPC).
The licence is recorded in the European Patent Register with the date on which the above-mentioned requirements are met. On that date, it becomes effective before the EPO, irrespective of the date on which it became effective between the parties.
The same applies to the registration of other rights, such as security rights.
For the provisions governing the cancellation of registered licences and other rights, see Rule 23(2) EPC.
The Legal Division has sole responsibility for the registration and cancellation of licences and other rights pursuant to Rules 23 and 24 EPC (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013 concerning the responsibilities of the Legal Division, OJ EPO 2013, 600).
For further information see:
Registrations of transfers (assignments) of European patent applications or patents are recorded in the European Patent Register at the request of an interested party and on production of documents satisfying the EPO that the transfer has taken place. Any kind of suitable written evidence is admissible, for example a copy of or extract from an official document, or a declaration signed by both parties. We recommend that you use EPO Form F5055.
The document filed in support of the request must contain the following information:
Please note that the EPO does not accept electronic signatures on documents submitted as evidence in support of a request for registration of a transfer of rights.
Documents may be filed in any language. The EPO may, however, require a translation into one of its official languages.
There is no prescribed form for such requests. They must, however, be filed in writing with the EPO, quoting the application number(s) concerned. We recommend using EPO Form F5050. The request must be signed by an entitled person, i.e. the applicant /proprietor or their representative.
An administrative fee is payable per application/patent concerned (see Schedule of fees and expenses of the EPO, fee code 022).
You should also inform the EPO if the transfer of the application/patent affects the authorisation of the representative.
The transfer becomes effective before the EPO on the date on which the above-mentioned requirements are met. The newly registered applicant/proprietor is entitled to exercise the right to the European patent application/patent before the EPO as of this date.
This also applies to the registration of transfers of European patents. It is important to note, however, that after grant, transfers can only be registered in the European Patent Register during the opposition period or during opposition proceedings (Rule 85 EPC). Transfers occurring during limitation proceedings will not be entered into the Register. The name of the new proprietor will, however, be mentioned as the person or entity requesting the limitation of the patent.
The Legal Division has sole responsibility for the registration of transfers pursuant to Rules 22 and 85 EPC once an adverse decision seems likely (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013 concerning the responsibilities of the Legal Division, OJ EPO 2013, 600).
Requests for registration of a change of name in the European Patent Register must be made in writing. We recommend using EPO Form F5051.
Where multiple applications/patents are concerned, you can indicate that the change of name applies to all the applications/patents belonging to the applicant/proprietor. In that case, you do not have to submit a list of the individual applications/patents concerned. The request must simply state that it relates to all the applications/patents owned by the applicant/proprietor.
There is no fee payable. Formal documentary proof of the change of name, e.g. a certificate of marriage, an extract from the commercial register (showing the old and new names) or any other official document (which must be certified by a notary public) must, however, be submitted.
A change of name of the applicant/proprietor can be registered in the European Patent Register as long as proceedings are pending before the EPO, and until expiry of the opposition period (see Article 99(1) EPC.)
As far as legal persons (e.g. companies) are concerned, the change of name must not involve a change of legal entity. In other words the legal entity must be the same before and after the change of name.
The Legal Division has sole responsibility for registering changes of name once an adverse decision seems likely (see Decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 November 2013 concerning the responsibilities of the Legal Division, OJ EPO 2013, 600).
For information on the patentability of programs for computers go to Digital technologies: Hardware and software.
PACE request for accelerated prosecution
PACE requests are available to applicants wishing to accelerate the search and/or examination procedures. You can make a PACE request once in each of these two procedures. PACE requests must be filed online using EPO Form 1005. They are subject to a number of requirements. In particular, the applicant must ensure that the procedure is not delayed, e.g. by requesting an extension of a time limit, failing to pay a renewal fee within the basic time limit (Rule 51(1) EPC) or causing a loss of rights, even if it can be remedied. In such cases, the EPO will remove the file from the PACE programme and a second PACE request will not be processed.
Request for early processing (Article 23(2) or 40(2) PCT) (Euro-PCT applications)
If you are interested in shortening the international phase of your PCT application, you can file a request for early processing under Articles 23(2) or 40(2) PCT. An effective request for early processing enables the EPO to start acting as designated or elected Office before expiry of the 31-month time limit (Rule 159(1) EPC). For further details, see “How can I request early processing of a Euro-PCT application and when will my request take effect?” below.
Waiver of the right to the communication under Rules 161 and 162 EPC (Euro-PCT applications)
You can waive your right to receive the communication under Rules 161 and 162 EPC. This will shorten the period until search or substantive examination starts by at least six months. The waiver is only valid if the requirements under Rule 161(1) EPC (mandatory reply to the written opinion of the International Searching Authority, if applicable) and Rule 162 EPC (payment of any claims fees) have been complied with on entry into the European phase. Otherwise, the communication under Rules 161 and 162 EPC will be issued and the application will be processed only after expiry of the six-month period under Rules 161(1) and 162(2) EPC, even if a PACE request has been filed.
Waiver of the right to the communication under Rule 70(2) EPC (EP-direct and Euro-PCT applications)
You can also waive your right to receive the communication under Rule 70(2) EPC (confirmation to proceed further to examination), provided that the request for examination was validly made, by payment of the examination fee, before issuance of the European (supplementary) search report. Instead of waiting for a period of approximately six months from receipt of the European (supplementary) search report, the file proceeds directly to examination. Please note, however, that waiving your right to the communication under Rule 70(2) EPC means that you unconditionally agree to maintain the European patent application, irrespective of the results of the European (supplementary) search.
Requests for early processing and waivers can be made in EPO Form 1200, by ticking sections 12.1 or 12.2.
The waiver to receive the communication under Rule 70(2) EPC can be made in EPO Form 1001, by ticking section 5.1. Requests for early processing and waivers of the Rule 161/162 communication are not relevant to EP-direct applications.
Euro-PCT applications for which a request to enter the European phase has been filed are, as a rule, not processed before expiry of the 31-month time limit under Rule 159(1) EPC.
However, you can ask the EPO as designated or elected Office to start processing your application earlier. To do this you should file an express request for early processing under Article 23(2) PCT or, where applicable, Article 40(2) PCT. You can file such a request at any time before expiry of the 31-month time limit, even if the international application has not yet been published. The easiest way is to tick the checkbox in section 12.1 “Early processing” in EPO Form 1200. For the request to take effect, you must fulfil the requirements for entry into the European phase as if the 31-month time limit mentioned above expired on the date of your request. For more information about the (minimum) requirements and for some examples, see points II.6, 7 and V. of the Notice from the EPO dated 21 February 2013 (OJ EPO 2013, 156) (see link below).
Provided that all the necessary requirements are met, your request for early processing will take effect on the day the EPO receives it. From then on the application will be processed in the same way as any “regular” Euro-PCT application (i.e. one without a request for early processing) that has entered the European phase. It will then also be possible to file a divisional application deriving from your Euro-PCT application (see J 18/09).
More detailed information, including the legal consequences of filing an effective request for early processing, can be found in the Notice from the EPO dated 21 February 2013 concerning the request for early processing (OJ EPO 2013, 156).
If you file a request for early processing and you wish to pay your fees via automatic debit order, you should bear in mind that automatic debiting can only be performed if the EPO can establish whether or not a page fee needs to be included as part of the filing fee. This is only possible if the EPO has access to the documents referred to in Article 20 PCT, i.e. if
If these requirements are not met, you should choose another means of payment. If you nevertheless wish to use automatic debiting, the fees due will be debited on the date of receipt of the documents referred to in Article 20 PCT from the International Bureau under Rule 47.4 PCT. In this case, the date on which the request for early processing takes effect will be postponed to that date.
The following examples illustrate the different situations which can arise, depending on when the request for early processing is filed. They supplement the information given in the notice from the EPO dated 27 September 2017 concerning revision of the Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes.
Example 1: The international application is published in Japanese. The international application and the international search report (ISR) are published on 09.11.2017. On 15.11.2017 the applicant files a request for early processing and indicates automatic debiting as method of payment. On the day the request is filed, the deposit account contains sufficient funds to cover the fees falling due under Rule 159(1) EPC. However, the applicant fails to file the translation of the international application under Rule 159(1)(a) EPC. As a result, the request for early processing will only take effect, and the fees be debited, when the EPO as designated or elected Office receives the translation.
Example 2: The applicant in the above example files the translation on 21.12.2017. As from that date the international phase is terminated in respect of the EPO as designated Office, and the Euro-PCT application is processed in the European phase. As a consequence, the examination and designation fees will be debited automatically in accordance with points 5.1 and 6 of the Arrangements for the automatic debiting procedure (AAD) on 09.05.2018, i.e. six months from the publication date of the ISR (Rules 70(1) and 39(1) EPC). Similarly, the third-year renewal fee will be debited on the last day of the month containing the third anniversary of the date of filing (Rule 51(1) EPC).
Example 3: A request for early processing under Article 23(2) PCT is filed together with a request for automatic debiting on 14.11.2017. The documents referred to in Article 20 PCT are not yet available to the EPO. The EPO issues a communication (EPO Form 1231) informing the applicant that the fees due must be paid by another means of payment; otherwise, the fees due under Rule 159(1) EPC will be automatically debited on the date the documents referred to in Article 20 PCT are received from the IB, and the request for early processing will then take effect on that date. On 22.11.2017 the applicant pays the filing fee, the additional fee and the search fee by bank transfer. On receipt of the documents referred to in Article 20 PCT, the EPO will verify that the additional fee paid was correct. If it was too low, the request for early processing will take effect when the shortfall is made good. If the additional fee (and all other fees due) are correctly paid, the effective date of early entry is the date on which the payment is received on the EPO bank account. Any further fees under Rule 159(1) EPC falling due at a later date will be debited automatically in accordance with points 5.1 and 6 AAD.
Example 4: The applicant of example 3 does not pay separately the fees due. The documents referred to in Article 20 PCT are transmitted from the IB to the EPO under Rule 47.4 PCT on 11.12.2017. The fees due are debited automatically on that date, which is then the effective date of early entry.
Example 5: A request for early processing under Article 23(2) PCT is filed on 14.11.2017, together with a request for automatic debiting. The documents referred to in Article 20 PCT are not yet available to the EPO. Also on 14.11.2017, the applicant submits a valid debit order for the fees due under Rule 159(1) EPC. The deposit account contains sufficient funds, and the fees are debited on 14.11.2017. On receipt of the documents referred to in Article 20 PCT, the EPO will verify that the additional fee paid was correct. If it was too low, the EPO will debit any shortfall from the applicant’s deposit account, applying the principles of decision T 152/82. Provided the deposit account contains sufficient funds, the request for early processing then takes effect on 14.11.2017. Any further fees under Rule 159(1) EPC falling due at a later date will be debited automatically in accordance with points 5.1 and 6 AAD.
For further details, please see the Arrangements for deposit accounts and their annexes.
 For the fees payable on filing of the request for early processing, see the notice from the European Patent Office dated 21 February 2013 concerning the request for early processing (OJ EPO 2013, 156, points II.6 and 7).
You will be sent EPO Form 2532G "Noting of loss of rights pursuant to Rule 112(1) EPC".
This loss of rights can be remedied during examination proceedings by filing either a request for further processing under Article 121 and Rule 135 EPC or a request for decision under Rule 112(2) EPC.
Please note that where translations of more than one priority document are requested and not provided in time, a further processing fee is due for each of the priorities concerned.
If you pay the fees under Rule 71(3)-(4) EPC and file the translations under Rule 71(3) EPC you are deemed to have approved the text communicated to you under Rule 71(3) EPC and to have verified the bibliographic data in that communication.
Once you have approved it, the text forms the basis for the decision to grant a European patent, and will be published in this form. That is why it is important that you should check it first.
According to decision G 1/10 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, where an applicant does not, where necessary, request reasoned amendments or corrections to the communicated text before it is approved, the responsibility for any errors remaining in that text after grant are his alone (G 1/10 of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of 23 July 2012 (OJ EPO 2013, 194, point 11 of the reasons).
If a decision to grant contains an error made after the text has been approved by the patent proprietor (e.g. if the examining division erroneously changes the wording of a claim), such that the text as granted is not that approved by the proprietor, then the patent proprietor is adversely affected by that decision and is entitled to appeal (G 1/10, point 12 of the reasons).
Such errors must be distinguished from printing errors/errors in publication. Printing errors are errors that occur in the publication process. If such errors occur, the content of the printed specification will differ from that of the documents (Druckexemplar) transmitted to the applicant with the communication under Rule 71(3) (EPO Form 2004) and approved by him.
Printing errors/errors in publication can be corrected at any time.
Yes, a European patent application may indeed be filed in any language. However, if the language is not one of the EPO’s official languages (English, French or German) you need to file a translation in one of the official languages within two months of filing the application. If the translation is not filed in due time, the EPO will invite you to correct this deficiency within two months. The official language into which the application is translated constitutes the language of the proceedings and cannot be changed at a later stage. If you fail to file the translation in due time in reply to the EPO’s invitation, the application will be deemed withdrawn. In such a case you may request re-establishment of rights under Article 122 EPC.
If the examining division is of the opinion that the application and the invention to which it relates meet the requirements of the European Patent Convention, it will proceed to the grant of the European patent. At this point the applicant is invited to pay the fee for grant and publishing and to file translations of the claims in the two other official languages.
Finally, after the grant of the European patent, a validation procedure - often including translation of the patent specification and/or claims - may have to be undertaken in order to validate the patent in the designated states. More information on the validation procedure and the language requirements of the contracting states can be found in the brochure “National Law relating to the EPC”.
Application not amended
The page fee is based on the international application as published, regardless of the language of publication. The pages of the description, claims and drawings are counted, and one extra page is added to account for any pages with bibliographic data and the abstract.
If amendments are filed on entry into the European phase, the page fee depends on the language in which the international application was published, i.e. one of the EPO languages or another language such as Japanese.
1. International publication in an official EPO language
If the description has been amended, the page fee is based on the description as published. In this case, the amended pages replace the respective pages of the description as published.
If the claims have been amended, you must submit the entire set even if the amendment concerns only some of them.
2. International publication not in an official EPO language
A description drafted partly in an EPO language and partly in another language such as Japanese cannot be taken as a basis for calculating the page fee. Therefore, if amendments are filed, the page fee is based on the translation of the international application which must be submitted on entry into the European phase (Article 153(4) EPC, Rule 159(1)(a) EPC).
If the description has been amended, the page fee is based on the entire translation of the description no matter what the extent of the changes. In this case, the amended pages replace the original ones.
If only the claims are amended, the page fee is based on the description as published in Japanese plus the translation of the entire set of claims as amended.
Any amendments under Article 19 PCT and/or Article 34 PCT are also considered part of the international publication and must be taken into account for the page fee unless you have indicated that the procedure in the European phase is not to be based on them. The indications you make in section 6 of EPO Form 1200 should be clear, so the EPO can readily identify the pages for which the page fee is payable. It is also advisable to complete the table on the last page of EPO Form 1200 as it will help you to calculate the correct page fee.
International application published in Japanese totalling 100 pages:
Description 80 pages
Claims 15 pages
Drawings 4 pages
Abstract 1 page
On entry into the European phase, an English translation of the international application is filed.
No amendments are filed.
The page fee is calculated for the 100 pages (minus 35 fee-exempt pages) of the international application as published (i.e. in Japanese).
The claim set has been amended. It replaces the original claims and any claims amended under Article 19 PCT and/or Article 34 PCT. The amended claim set consists of 20 pages.
The page fee is calculated as follows:
Description 80 pages (in Japanese)
Claims 20 pages (in English, as amended)
Drawings 4 pages
Abstract 1 page
105 pages (minus 35 fee-exempt pages)
The claim set and description (pages 5 and 8) have been amended. The new wording replaces the original claims and pages 5 and 8 of the English translation of the original description, as well as any amendments under Article 19 PCT and/or Article 34 PCT. The amended claim set consists of 20 pages. The English translation of the description (including the replacement pages) consists of 100 pages.
The page fee is calculated as follows:
Description 100 pages (pages 1-4, 6-7 and 9-100 of the English translation, amended pages 5 and 8)
Claims 20 pages (in English, as amended)
Drawings 4 pages
Abstract 1 page
125 pages (minus 35 fee-exempt pages)
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.
You are right that, since the introduction of the streamlined opposition procedure on 1 July 2016, requests for extensions of time limits to six months are no longer granted “automatically”. The streamlined procedure was introduced with the aim of bringing about a speedy resolution to opposition proceedings, and thus to enhance legal certainty about patent rights. The procedure also ensures your right to be heard and gives you more time to prepare for oral proceedings.
A request for extension of a time limit can be granted in exceptional, duly substantiated cases only. The reasons for the request must be sufficient to show convincingly that more time is required for the reply. This may apply when experiments or tests are needed, multiple opponents are involved or the case requires the taking of evidence.
For further information on the streamlined opposition procedure, see the