The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has recently announced changes to UK patent fees. These changes follow a consultation period in 2017 and introduce some new fees as well as increasing existing fees. The changes will enter into force for UK patent applicants on April 6 2018.
The changes, related to filing, search, examination and grant affect both direct UK patent applications and UK national phase patent applications based on a corresponding international (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application. The changes to renewal fees will affect all granted UK patent applications, including those resulting from granted European patent applications.
Among these changes, the filing and search fees will both increase, alongside a new surcharge for the payment of the application fee after filing. Perhaps more significant is the introduction of a fee for excess claims. Under the previous fee structure, there was no financial penalty for filing a UK patent application with a large number of claims. However, under the changed fee structure, an excess claims fee of £20 for each claim over 25 claims will be payable alongside the search fee.
The changes also include a £20 increase to the examination fee and the introduction of a fee of £10 for each page of description over 35. Where an excess page fee is payable, this will be due alongside the examination fee. While the UK currently has no grant or issue fee for patents, after these fee changes, if the number of excess claims or excess pages increases during prosecution, a fee will be payable at grant composed of the additional excess claims fees and excess pages fees due.
Finally, as part of the changes, renewal fees for year 12 onwards will be increased by £10. Overall, the fee changes will more closely align the UKIPO's fee schedule and practice with that of the European Patent Office.
Despite these upcoming changes, fees at the UKIPO remain highly competitive relative to those of other similar sized economies. Therefore, the UK remains an attractive jurisdiction in which to file patent applications, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, and is a crucial territory within an IP strategy.
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