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Reduced EPO fees for ‘micro entities’

26 February 2024

From 1 April 2024 the European Patent Office are introducing reduced fees for smaller and less experienced patent filers at the EPO.

The new scheme offers a 30% fee reduction on a variety of EPO fees for ‘micro entities’ who have filed fewer than 5 European patents in the last 5 years.

The applicable ‘micro entities’ are:

  • microenterprises (having fewer than 10 employees and under EUR 2million turnover);
  • natural persons;
  • non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations.

Importantly there is no restriction on the nationality or domicile for these qualifying micro entities, unlike the existing language-related fee reductions currently in place for small entities. The new 30% fee reduction is available in addition to those language-related fee reductions.

The new fee reductions are available on the following EPO fees:

  • the filing fee, including any additional fees part of the filing fee;
  • the fee for a European search or the fee for a supplementary European search in the case of a Euro-PCT application searched by an International Searching Authority (ISA) other than the EPO;
  • the examination fee, and in addition, if applicable, the previously paid international search fee where the EPO acted as ISA;
  • the designation fee;
  • the fee for grant;
  • the renewal fees for the European patent application.

To access the new 30% fee reduction a declaration needs to be made either at the time of filing the European patent application or at the latest upon paying the fee concerned, from 1 April 2024.

The five year period ‘cap’ on these fee reductions is based upon the most recent five European patent filings now in the name of the same micro entity claiming the fee reduction. The relevant dates are determined as:

  • the date of filing a European patent application;
  • the date of entry into the European phase of a Euro-PCT application; or
  • for a divisional European patent application, the date of receipt of the divisional application.

The new 30% fee reduction does not apply to other SMEs (having fewer than 250 employees and under EUR 50million turnover) larger than microenterprises, but those other SMEs can still make use of the existing language-related fee reductions.

The EPO Notice in full is available here.

These new fee reductions are aimed at boosting access to the European patent system for smaller and less experienced European patent filers. On the face of it, the reductions will be welcomed in the current high inflationary environment, but need to be balanced against the administrative burden of making the declaration and the penalties for rectifying underpayment errors if they occur.


Richard Worthington

Advanced Engineering group

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Withers & Rogers LLP February 2024