EPO Continues Suspension of Late Fees to Help Applicants in the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Francesca Giovannini

繁體中文

The European Patent Office issued a notice dated 29 May 2020 concerning the temporary suspension of the application of the additional fee for belated payment of a renewal fee for a European patent application.

The European Patent Office (EPO) issued a notice dated 29 May 2020 concerning the temporary suspension of the application of the additional fee for belated payment of a renewal fee for a European patent application. This notice is an advance version of the authentic text of this new measure, which is expected to be published in the June 2020 issue of the EPO Official Journal. The temporary suspension of the application of the additional fee is a relief measure applicable to all Applicants of European patent applications.

According to the notice of  29 May 2020, Applicants of European patent applications have the possibility of delaying the payment of renewal fees due to the EPO by up to three months without incurring the additional fee. Renewal fees are due to the EPO in respect of the third patent year until the patent issues, after which renewal fees are due to the national Offices of the states where the patent is validated. The amount of the additional fee, which is applied when a renewal fee is paid within the 6-month grace period, is 50% of the belated renewal fee. The application of the additional fee is temporarily suspended from 1 June 2020 until 31 August 2020, inclusive.

The extension of periods published in the notice from the EPO dated 1 May 2020 also applies to periods for paying fees, including renewal fees as per the notice from the EPO dated 30 March 2020. As a consequence, the due date for renewal fees falling due on or after 15 March 2020 was deferred to 2 June 2020.

In view of the combined application of all these notices, any renewal fee falling due on or after 15 March 2020 can be validly paid by 31 August 2020 with no additional fee. Thus, renewal fees due on 31 March 2020, 30 April 2020, 31 May 2020, 30 June 2020 and 31 July 2020 may be validly paid by 31 August 2020 without any surcharge in addition to the standard renewal fee. If a renewal fee due on any of these dates is not paid by 31 August 2020 at the latest, it can still be validly paid with an additional fee before the expiry of the 6-month grace period, i.e, by 30 September 2020, 31 October 2020, 30 November 2020, 31 December 2020 and 31 January 2021, respectively.