June 25, 2015 - « True TOP 4 » decided for the renewal fees of the Unitary Patent

The Select Committee of the European Patent Office (EPO), on June 25th, decided to adopt the so called « True TOP 4 », meaning that each renewal fee for the Unitary patent should be approximately equal to the sum of the 4 renewal fees to be paid for a granted European patent validated in France, Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

This is indeed a relatively high amount and may not be very attractive for a patentee only seeking protection in 3 or even 4 European countries. Comparing costs must also take into account the specific countries of interest. For example, renewal fees in Italy are less expensive than in the Netherlands.

This decision is not yet absolutely definitive since discussions are still ongoing, particularly for the distribution key between the future Contracting member States

Nevertheless, this decision will now allow preparation for future strategy to be adopted as soon as the Unitary patent, together with the Unified patent Court (UPC), comes into effect.

The renewal fees for the Unitary patent are expected to be as follows:

YEAR
Fee (€) YEAR Fee (€)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

35
105
145
315
475
630
815
990
1 175
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
1 460
1 775
2 105
2 455
2 830
3 240
3 640
4 055
4 455
4 855

It is important to note that renewal fees are to be paid for a pending European patent application. Usually, the European patent is granted after about 5 years from the filing date. Renewal fees for the Unitary patent are only to be paid after grant. If the grant occurs after 5 years from filing, the renewal fees for the granted Unitary patent will be cheaper at the beginning than the renewal fees for the pending application (only after the 11th year, is the Unitary patent more expensive)

The renewal fees for a pending European patent application are as follows:

YEAR
Fee (€) YEAR Fee (€)


3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10


465
580
810
1 040
1 155
1 265
1 380
1 560
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560
1 560

It must also be noted that the Unitary patent, which could theoretically cover 25 countries, will probably only cover 13 or 14 European countries at the beginning, including France, Germany and Great Britain. However, Italy has recently announced its willingness to participate. Spain, on the other hand, is reluctant to participate.
The schedule of renewal fees may be revised after 4 years, if more countries join the system.

At present (end of June 2015), the following 7 countries have ratified:

  • - France
  • - Austria
  • - Belgium
  • - Sweden
  • - Denmark
  • - Luxemburg
  • - Malta

Another 8 countries are seriously considering ratification:

  • - Germany
  • - Great Britain
  • - Italy
  • - The Netherlands
  • - Portugal
  • - Finland
  • - Lithuania
  • - Estonia

The situation of Great Britain is somewhat unclear since the British governement has decided to organize a referendum on the possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

If such an exit were to occur, the United Kingdom would no longer be part of the Unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court. Additionally, the London section of the Central Division would have to be relocated, possibly to Paris, where the seat of the Central Division is located.