JULY 13, 2015 | EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE INTRODUCES APPLICANT-FRIENDLY RENEWAL FEES FOR THE FORTHCOMING UNITARY PATENT RIGHT

On June 24, 2015, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced an agreement on “business-friendly” annual fees for renewing the upcoming Unitary Patent (UP) right. The so-called ‘True Top 4’ fee structure implies that the UP renewal fees shall amount to the total sum of the current renewal fee costs in the four countries in which European patents currently are most frequently validated, namely The United Kingdom, France, Germany and The Netherlands.

Under the current system, European patents – after being granted by the EPO – must be validated individually in each country for which patent protection is sought, resulting in a bundle of individual national patents. Therefore, European patents are referred to as batch patents. This practice leads to substantial administrative and financial overheads for applicants, especially for individuals, for education and research institutes as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): the costs for maintaining a European batch patent in 25 European Union Member States (except Italy and Spain) add up to 29,500 Euro for 10 years, and nearly as high as 159,000 Euro for the full 20 years.

By contrast, the cost of renewing the new UP right will be less than 5,000 Euro for a 10-year-lifespan. And the cumulative total to be paid for maintaining an UP over the full 20‑year term will be just 35,500 Euro. A more-detailed chart can be accessed here.

In particular, the low fees for the average patent lifetime of ten years in combination with a scope of protection for 25 Member States are very applicant-friendly and most likely will make the UP a competitively viable option for SMEs, too.