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EPO announces fee reductions for micro-entities

EPO announces fee reductions for micro-entities

European News 20/02/2024

The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently announced that a new micro-entity-related support scheme will come into force on 1 April 2024.

Under new Rule 7a(3) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), this scheme will enable micro-entities (including micro-enterprises, natural persons, non-profit organisations, universities and public research organisations) applying for European patent applications to benefit from a 30% reduction in many official fees associated with the grant procedure, provided they have filed fewer than five applications in the last five years.

This micro-entity-related support scheme applies to the following Applicants, irrespective of nationality or residence (Rule 7a(2) or (3) EPC):

- microenterprises (employing fewer than ten people and an annual turnover not exceeding €2 million);

- natural persons;

- non-profit organisations;

- universities and public research organisations.


To benefit from a fee reduction under this scheme, eligible Applicants must simply declare their status as an entity under Rule 7a(2) or (3) EPC on the Request for Grant form in the case of direct European patent applications or the European regional phase entry form in the case of Euro-PCT applications. If a patent application has more than one Applicant, each Applicant must be considered a “micro-entity” for the fee reduction to apply.

The fee reductions will apply to both European patent applications and international applications that have entered the European phase (Euro-PCT patent applications) regardless of the filing date of the application. The 30% reduction in official fees for micro-entities under Rule 7a(3) EPC applies to:

- the filing fee (including any additional fees which are part of the filing fee);

- the fee for a European search (or the fee for a supplementary European search in the case of a Euro-PCT application searched by an International Searching Authority (ISA) other than the EPO);

- the examination fee;

- the designation fee;

- the fee for grant;

- the renewal fees for the European patent application.


The micro-entity-related support scheme can be used in combination with existing fee reductions, for example:

- ​Under Rule 7a(1) EPC, eligible applicants (as defined by Rule 6(4)EPC) may benefit from language-related fee reductions for filing and examination fees when the European patent application (or the request for examination) is in an official language of a contracting state but other than English, French or German.

- ​Under Rules 8 to 11 relating to Unitary Patent Protection, eligible proprietors of European patents with unitary effect may be granted compensation for Unitary Patent-related translation costs.


There is however a five-application cap on the number of applications eligible for fee reductions under this scheme within a five-year period. In particular micro-entities are only eligible for fee reductions in respect of an application if they have filed fewer than five applications in the five years preceding the application for which the fee reduction is requested. This applies irrespective of whether the previous applications were subject to a fee reduction or their current status (pending, withdrawn, deemed withdrawn, refused or patent granted).


If an applicant using the micro-entity-related support scheme has a change in status, and is no longer an entity under Rule 7a(2) and/or (3) EPC, they must notify the EPO accordingly. However, changes in the status of an entity, occurring after the filing of a declaration, will take effect only in respect of future official fees payable and will not affect any reduced fees already paid. Any reduced payments where a declaration is incorrectly made, or where the EPO has not been informed of a change of status of the applicant, will be deemed to have not been paid and consequently the patent application will be deemed withdrawn.

In summary, from 1 April 2024, this scheme will help support micro-entities obtain European patents and safeguard their innovations in Europe. With fee reduction schemes for small or micro-entities available in other jurisdictions such as the US, Canada and Japan, the new fee reduction scheme is a step forward for EPO in assisting smaller applicants in the patent prosecution process. However, it will be important that applicants carefully understand the eligibility rules and any fees are correctly paid.  

For more information on the new micro-entity-related support scheme or advice on how to cost-effectively navigate the European patent system, get in touch to find out how we can support you. Email: