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EPO endorses ‘True’ Top 4 model for unitary patent renewal fees

Number of visits: Date:2015-06-29

  The European Patent Office (EPO) has formally endorsed a renewal fee model for the proposed unitary patent.

  On June 24, the select committee of the Administrative Council at the EPO backed the 'True Top 4' model.

  The model proposes that the renewal fees each year should amount to the sum total of the current renewal fee costs in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands, which are the four most popular European jurisdictions for filing patents.

  It means that under the new model the cost of renewal over a 20 year period would be €2,000 ($2,236) cheaper than the fee outlined in the EPO's original proposal earlier this year.

  Benoît Battistelli, president of the EPO, said: "The decision strikes a positive balance, ensuring that the fees represent a real cost saving to the user and also provide a healthy operating budget for the EPO and the participating member states."

  He added: "This is another major step in achieving truly uniform patent protection in Europe."

  Wouter Pors, partner at law firm Bird & Bird, said the EPO’s endorsement is “great news”.

  “Most companies that are prepared to enforce their patents when needed would currently validate in at least four countries, but now they can get protection for 24 countries for the same money.”

  He added that if Italy were to join the UPC, as it has shown signs of doing, it would mean the unitary patent “would cover a market of 418 million consumers”.

  “Europe may now become the focal point for patent enforcement when the UPC opens, taking the place the US currently holds,” Pors added.

  Last month, the EPO revised its proposed fee models after receiving “concerns” from stakeholders that the ‘Top 4’ and ‘Top 5’ models that it originally proposed did not accurately reflect the costs of renewing patents in the most popular jurisdictions.

  In the proposals first revealed in March, the costs of renewing the patents between the third and fifth year were based on the EPO's internal renewal fees, while between years six and nine there would be a slow change in fees towards the total costs for renewing patents in the four most popular jurisdictions.

  It was only between tenth and twentieth year of renewal that the cost would be based on the sum costs of renewing patents in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. In the case of the ‘Top 5’ model this would have included Switzerland as well.

  But Under the True Top 4, the cost of renewing the unitary patent would now be €35,555 after 20 years, €2,000 less than the 'Top 4' model.

TypeInfo: Industry trends

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