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27.03.2014

Reduction of Fees at the European Patent Office for European Patent Applications

In filing European patent applications Swiss companies have an advantage that Italian is a national language of Switzerland but no official language of the European Patent Office. The official languages are German, English and French.  In such a case the European Patent Office so far granted a fee reduction for some of the procedural steps entailing costs in the course of a European patent application.  Among these costs were e.g. the fees for requesting examination, a limitation or an opposition.  The reduction in fees comes into effect even when the text of the patent application exists in German, English or French.  For example for a German patent application a request for examination may be filed in Italian.  So far the fees have thereby been reduced by 20%.

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Office has now decided to change the regulations with respect to the reduction of fees in connection with European patent applications as of April 1, 2014.  The reduction in fees will in future be 30%.  At the same time many of the procedural steps will be excluded from the reduction, however.  The cost advantage will only be given for the filing fee and the examination fee.  Moreover only certain applicants will profit from the reduction.  These are natural persons and non-profit organizations, universities as well as public research organizations.  Furthermore small and medium-sized enterprises can profit from the reduction of fees.  In order to be considered as small and medium-sized company, a company may have no more than 250 fully employed persons.  Furthermore it may have an annual turnover of at most 50 Mio. EUR or at most 43 Mio. EUR annual balance sheet.

These is good news for countless Swiss sole proprietors, small businesses and small and medium-sized companies who wish to have protection for their innovations not only in Switzerland but also in other countries of Europe through a European patent.  The patent can be written and filed in German, English, French or Italian. The request for examination, obligatory for every European patent application, can be made in Italian, whereby the fees for the applicant are reduced by 30%.

Moreover similar possibilities of a savings in fees for small businesses are also foreseen in the USA.