By Christopher P. Singer --
Recently, the European Patent Office (EPO) published a notice on its website announcing a new fee schedule that will become effective on April 1, 2009. A complete description of the revised fees can be found here. This schedule will be applicable for all EP applications, including divisional and new applications, that are filed on or after April 1, 2009. Several of the notable changes relate to fees for excess claims, application size, and country designation.
Currently, applicants get 15 claims at no additional cost (beyond the filing and examination fees), and pay 200 Euro for each claim beyond the first 15 claims. Under the new fee schedule, the same claims fees apply up to the 50th claim, and every claim beyond 50 will incur a new escalated charge of 500 Euro per claim. Patent Docs first reported on the fee increase last year (see "New Excess Claim Fees for EP Applications"), and shortly thereafter, presented some strategies for dealing with the new claims fees (see "Dealing with the EPO's New Excess Claims Fees").
Application Size Fee
An additional application size fee will be introduced for applications containing more than 35 pages, at a rate of 12 Euro per page. Application pages that are considered in the total page calculation include the description, claims, drawings and (1 page) abstract. This fee is due within one month from the filing date of the application. Previously, the EPO charged a similar excess page fee for applications over 35 pages in length at the time of printing the granted patent. The EPO will no longer charge fees for excess pages at the time of printing the granted patent.
The new fee schedule simplifies the prior designation fees for entering the various contracting states of the EPC by charging a flat designation fee of 500 Euro, which covers the designation of all contracting states. Currently, the designation fee is 85 Euro per country, up to a maximum fee of 595 Euro (i.e., all designated contracting states after the seventh incur no additional cost).
In light of these changes to the fee structure, applicants may wish to file European applications prior to April 1, 2009, if they intend to designate five or fewer contracting states, or if the application contains more than 50 claims or more than 35 pages.