UK's Intellectual Property Office confirms increase in UK patent fees
After consulting on changes to patent fees last year, the UK's Intellectual Property Office ('the IPO') has now confirmed that UK patent fees will increase as of 6 April 2018.
1. Increases to the application fee
From 6 April 2018, the fee for submitting a paper application will increase from £30 to £90, whilst the fee for applications made online will increase from £20 to £60.
As it currently stands, an applicant has up to 12 months from filing their patent application to pay the application fee; however, the new changes will impose a 25% surcharge fee if an applicant does not pay their application fee at the time of filing their application. This surcharge will apply regardless of whether the patent application is made on paper or via the e-filing system.
2. Increase to fees for Search and Substantive Examination requests
As part of the patent application process, the IPO will perform a search on the applicant's patent application. The search fee for a UK patent application will increase from £150 to £180 if the request is made on paper and from £130 to £150 if the request is filed online.
During the application process, the applicant will also need to file a request for substantive examination, for which a fee is also payable. Substantive examination involves considering how the claimed invention differs to any prior invention. The fee for a substantive examination request is due to increase from £100 to £130 when made via a paper application. Again, there will be a £30 reduction if the request is made online (i.e. it will cost £100).
3. The new excess claims (which forms part of the Search fee)
During the patent application process, applicants are required to submit precise statements of the invention that they want to be patented. Such statements are known as 'claims' and must be filed with the IPO within 12 months of filing a patent application.
From 6 April 2018, the search fee will increase by £20 for each claim over 25. For instance, if 27 claims were submitted then there would be an additional charge of £40 added to the search fee. The new 'excess claims' fee will only apply to any search requests made on or after 6 April 2018. Such fees will also be due once a patent is granted, should the number of claims have exceeded 25 during examination.
4. The new excess pages fee (forms part of the Examination fee)
As part of their application for a patent, applicants are also required to submit a full description of their invention. The new fee changes will implement a £10 fee for each page of description submitted in excess of 35 pages. As such, if 40 description pages were submitted then there would be an additional charge of £50. The 'excess page' fee will form part of the examination fee. Again, such fees will also be due once a patent is granted in the event that the number of description pages exceed 35 during examination.
5. Increase in renewal fees
Once a UK patent has been granted, the owner of the patent is required to pay an annual fee in order to maintain the patent. A UK patent can be maintained for up to 20 years from the initial filing date. As of 6 April 2018, patent renewal fees for years 12-20 will increase by £10, whilst there will be no changes to renewal fees for years 5-11.
It is clear that the above changes will provide efficiencies for the IPO, not only in terms of cost but on a broader, practical level. Although some may be disheartened by the fee increases, it is worth noting that UK patent fees remain considerably lower than applications made at the European Patent Office and United States Patents and Trademark Office. Applicants who have already filed a patent application may wish to file any search and/or examination requests before 6 April 2018 in order to benefit from the current, lower fees.