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What factors affect costs upon entry into the European regional phase?

If you are considering taking your PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application forward in Europe before the EPO (European Patent Office), it’s important to be aware of the fees associated with the process. Not only are there set fees, but there are also factors which can affect the cost of your application throughout the process. Take a look at the information below to find out which factors and fees you should consider, and gain an expectation of how much the process should cost you.

What are the basic fees for entry into Europe?

Unless you are entering Europe very early, the following official fees must be paid to the EPO to enter the European regional phase:

  • Filing fee;
  • Search fee;
  • Examination fee;
  • Designation fee;
  • Excess pages fees (if relevant);
  • 3rd-year renewal fee (if due, based PCT application filing date)

Excess page fees

Excess page fees are payable at a rate of €15 EUR for each page of the application over 35, taking into account the PCT application as published in the language of filing, even if not an official language of the EPO. These fees are typically only a significant concern for applications with particularly long descriptions or large numbers of drawings pages. If the European application is to be based on amended pages filed in time upon entry into Europe, the excess pages fees may be adjusted accordingly.

Excess claims fees

Excess claims fees are relatively high in the EPO, starting at 235 EUR per claim in excess of fifteen and 585 EUR per claim in excess of fifty. However, these fees can be deferred and so they do not need to be considered or paid at the time of regional phase entry. It is often preferable to reduce claim numbers on the European patent application, rather than pay hefty claims fees. Most applicants reduce claim numbers after entry into Europe when invited to do so within a 6-month term set by the EPO. If you want European prosecution to proceed swiftly, we suggest reducing claim numbers proactively upon entry into Europe.

Renewal fees

Renewal fees are payable to the EPO whilst your European patent application is pending. These fees are due on the last day of the month in which the anniversary of the filing date for your European patent application falls. For PCT-derived applications, the European filing date is the PCT filing date.

The renewal fee for the third year is only due upon entry into Europe if two years have passed since the PCT filing date, e.g. if no priority is claimed or if the PCT was filed shortly after the priority application. Even if the third-year renewal fee is not yet due at the point of entry to the regional phase, it can be paid up to 6 months early, so the payment can often be made at the time of entering the European regional phase. Please note, that all other renewal fees cannot be paid more than three months before they are due.

Search fees

The search fee is waived if the EPO carried out the search during the international phase of the PCT application. A reduced search fee is in place if the international search report on your PCT application was prepared by the Patent Office of Austria, Finland, Spain, Sweden or Turkey, the Nordic Patent Institute or the Visegrad Patent Institute.

If the EPO deems that the claims of your patent application relate to more than one invention, you may receive only a partial European search report. The partial search report will relate only to the invention identified first within the claims. You will be presented with the option to pay a further fee in order to search the other invention(s) claimed in your application.

Designation fee and Examination fee

The designation and examination fees may not be due at the time of entry to the regional phase if the PCT application is entering Europe early. They fall due within 6 months of publication of the international search report on the PCT application.

These are the main fees to think about what it comes to your filing cost, and naturally, the final cost will be completely dependant on your application and associated time scales.

If you’re just getting started with your patent application, use our pct2ep cost estimator to find out how much the process will cost you.

Author: Nicholas Ferrar

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