Fee Reductions at European Patent Office for Small Entities

The European Patent Office has announced a new fee reduction scheme, specifically designed for micro-entities, effective April 1, 2024. This scheme aims to support smaller and less experienced entities in Europe by easing access to the European patent system. It introduces a 30% fee reduction for various patent-related fees for eligible so-called “micro-entities” (including universities, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and natural persons), including filing, examination, and renewal fees. The initiative complements existing support measures for small entities.

These new rules are in addition to the existing reductions which apply to SMEs, NGOs, universities and natural persons having their place of business in an EPC member state with a language other than English, French or German.

The new rules apply independently of nationality or place of residence. In other words, micro-entities based outside of Europe will also be eligible for the fee reduction. There will be a cap on the number of patent applications eligible for a fee reduction – this is set to be five applications in the previous five years. Once this cap is exceeded, then the regular fees need to be paid.

Eligibility requirements and, in particular, the cap, will need to be checked carefully as the fees will be treated as not being paid in time. The applicant will, however, be invited to rectify this error within two months in a notification.