As of 1st April 2024, the European Patent Office (EPO) have introduced measures to support micro-entities by reducing some of the main fees payable for the filing and prosecution of European patent applications by 30% (Rule 7a(1) and (3) EPC). The EPO hope that these changes will support the growth and development of smaller and less experienced entities by making it easier to access the European patent system.

The fee reductions are applicable to micro-entities at the EPO who are:

  1. A natural person (i.e. an individual);
  2. A microenterprise; or
  3. A non-profit organisation, a university or public research organisation (detailed definitions can be found here);

and who have filed fewer than five European patent applications (including divisional patent applications) or Euro-PCT applications within a period of five years preceding the date of filing the European patent application, the date of receipt of the European divisional patent application, or the date of entry into the European phase of the Euro-PCT application concerned.

If there is more than one applicant for a European patent application, all the applicants must fulfil the conditions.

A microenterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs fewer than 10 full-time persons and an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total of up to 2 million Euros.

The fee reduction applies to micro-entities, irrespective of their nationality or domicile.

The applicable fees that can be reduced by 30% include:

  • The filing fee;
  • The search fee;
  • The Examination fee, and in addition the previously paid international search fee where the EPO acts as International Searching Authority;
  • The designation fee;
  • The grant fee; and
  • The renewal fees for the European patent application.

In order for an Applicant to benefit from the fee reduction, a declaration will need to be filed at the EPO declaring their status (i.e. as a natural person, a microenterprise, a non-profit organisation, university or public research organisation) at the latest when the fee concerned is paid to the EPO.

Any change in the status of an entity which has requested a reduction of fees must be notified to the EPO. Changes in the status of an entity which take place after the date of filing the declaration for fee reduction will only effect future payments and not fees already paid.

The EPO will make random checks on the accuracy of the declarations filed and if they consider there is reasonable doubt as to the validity of the declaration, the EPO may request evidence to be filed to support the micro-entity status claim.

In the event the EPO finds that an applicant has incorrectly identified themselves eligible for a fee reduction, a reduced fee will be deemed not to have been validly paid and the European patent application will be deemed withdrawn.

If you feel you may be eligible for a fee reduction at the EPO and you have not yet filed a declaration at the EPO or instructed us to do so, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will file a declaration on your behalf.