It has been known for some time that official fees payable to the European Patent Office will increase with effect from 1 April 2014. The new fees have now been announced.
In general, there are to be increases across the board of around 4-5%. However, some fees will increase rather more than that, and – rather surprisingly – one fee will (apparently) be substantially reduced.
In particular, the fee for a European search or supplementary European search will increase by around 10%, the fee for appeal by 50%, and the fee for central revocation of a European patent by more than 100%. On the other hand, the fee for central limitation will be reduced to less than 50% of its current level.
The substantial increase in the revocation fee (from EUR 500 to EUR 1155) and reduction in the limitation fee (from EUR 1105 to EUR 520) are curious. It is hard to see any logic in these changes, and we wonder whether a mistake has been made, and whether what was intended was a modest increase in both, i.e. from EUR 500 to EUR 520, and from EUR 1105 to EUR 1155.
The increase in the fee for appeal is presumably intended to discourage the filing of appeals, and hence to help reduce the backlog in appeals at the EPO. However, given that the official fee is normally only a relatively small component of the overall cost of an appeal, it is unlikely that the increase will have much impact.
In addition to changes to existing fees, the EPO has also confirmed the new additional filing fee for second (and later) generation divisional applications. These had been rumoured to be on a scale starting at EUR 200 and rising to EUR 800, and the precise figures are now confirmed to be as follows:
Second generation divisional: EUR 210
Third generation divisional: EUR 420
Fourth generation divisional: EUR 630
Fifth and later generation divisional: EUR 840
Again, the intended deterrent effect of these fees is likely to be limited, given that the total official fees payable in respect of an EPO divisional application are usually of the order of several thousand Euros.