EPO: increase of official fees as from April 1st, 2024 and new micro-entity status


EPO will increase amounts of official fees as from April 1, 2024. To compensate this increase, a new micro-entity status will be created for applicants before EPO.

The micro-entity regime applies, irrespective of their nationality or domicile, to:
     (a)   microenterprises;
     (b)   natural persons;
     (c)   non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations.

Where there is more than one applicant for a given application, each one of the applicants must be eligible. The status is lost if the application is transferred to an entity that is not a micro-entity.

A microenterprise is defined as an enterprise that employs fewer than 10 persons and whose annual turnover does not exceed 2 million Euros. This definition is however based on a EU Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 and should be interpreted carefully when the microenterprise is not autonomous according to this Recommendation.

The eligibility criteria has to be fulfilled on the date of payment of the fee concerned.

When eligible, a 30% reduction will apply to all of the filing, search, examination, designation, grant and renewal fees to be paid, as long as the applicant has filed less than five patent applications in the last five years.

If no more eligible, official fees are due without the reduction.

The status is acquired through a declaration made upon payment of the concerned fee.

Applicant shall inform the European Patent Office of any change of status affecting eligibility for a reduction of fees at the latest when the fee concerned is paid.

In the event of reasonable doubt as to the veracity of the declaration filed or, subsequently, as to the applicant's eligibility for a reduction of fees, the European Patent Office may request evidence.

Should it become apparent that an incorrect declaration has been filed or the European Patent Office has not been informed of a change of status as indicated above and a reduced payment is made, the fee shall be deemed not to have been paid and the application shall be deemed to be withdrawn. Further processing under Article 121 and Rule 135 EPC will be available as a remedy.

The reduction of fees is not available where the same micro-entity has filed five or more European patent applications or Euro-PCT applications within a period of five years preceding:

  • the date of filing of the European patent application concerned, or
  • the date of entry into the European phase of the Euro-PCT application concerned.

The relevant date for previous applications shall be the date of filing in the case of a European patent application or the date of entry into the European phase in the case of a Euro-PCT application. In the case of multiple applicants filing a European patent application or a Euro-PCT application, the reduction shall be available only if each applicant fulfils the applicable eligibility criteria.

The European Patent Office will systematically check the cap on eligible applications per applicant when eligibility is claimed.

In the event that a reduced fee was paid but the cap has been exceeded, the applicant will be invited to pay the missing amount within a period of two months from the date of the invitation.