Latest EPO fee proposal for Unitary Patents

25 June 2015

At a meeting on 23 and 24 June, the select committee of the administrative council of the EPO decided preliminarily in favour of a True TOP 4 approach to renewal fees for the new unitary patent.

The EPO had produced an initial, and then a revised, proposal. These were intended to reflect the aim of arriving at renewal fees that are low enough to be attractive to patentees, whilst being high enough to ensure a balanced budget for the EPO and the national patent offices. 

The first proposal

The EPO’s first proposal was based on TOP 4 and TOP 5. With TOP 4 being as follows:

  • Years 3-5: existing EPO internal renewal fees (IRF);
  • Years 6-9: steady increase from IRF level to year 10 level;
  • Years 10-20: equivalent to the sum of total national renewal fees payable in TOP 4 validated countries (DE, FR, GB and NL).

TOP 5 is similar, but based on renewal fees for the TOP 5 validated countries (being DE, FR, GB, NL and SE) in years 10-20, and with concessions for SMEs, individuals, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations (“SMEs etc,”) - namely a 25% reduction during the first 10 years.

The 7 May proposal

The EPO revised its proposal on 7 May 2015, to take the “True” TOP 4 and “True” TOP 5 levels.

True TOP 4:

  • Years 2-20: equivalent to the sum of national renewal fees payable in the TOP 4 validated countries (again, DE, FR, GB and the NL). 

True TOP 5:

  • Years 2-20: equivalent to the sum of national renewal fees payable in the TOP 5 validated countries (again, DE, FR, GB, NL and SE). There would be concessions for SMEs etc. (a 25% reduction in years 2-10).

At a select committee meeting on 26 and 27 May 2015, the revised proposals were discussed.

In light of the views expressed at that meeting, the EPO submitted the True TOP 4 proposal to the committee for a decision (the implementation of which will be subject to the adoption of an overall package including the level of fees and the distribution key).

The latest decision

At the select committee meeting on 23 and 24 June, it was decided that the EPO’s preliminary view was in favour of True TOP 4. At the meeting, held by the EPO and the EU member states participating in the unitary patent, the proposal was adopted with the required three quarters majority.

The whole package (including the fee distribution between the member states) is expected to be finalised during the autumn.

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