An agreed set of fees for the proposed Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Europe has now been published. After the Agreement on the UPC has been ratified by 13 European states including France, Germany and the UK (which will now be delayed at least until after the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union on 23 June 2016), the Court will hear cases regarding infringement and revocation of European patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO), including the much-awaited unitary patents. During an initial 7-year transition period, however, patent proprietors will be able to opt their European patents (excluding unitary patents) out of the jurisdiction of the Court. Importantly, this new document confirms that there will be no official charge to opt European patents out of the UPC jurisdiction. Indeed, it is probable that many patent proprietors will wish to avoid the UPC system during the transition period given the current lack of UPC case law, the associated uncertainty over potential trial outcomes (compared to existing national courts) and the unpleasant possibility that a European patent might be invalidated simultaneously across many European countries (which is not possible under the current system of national courts outside the limited 9-month opposition period available before the EPO). Existing clients are welcome to get in touch if they would like more information about the proposed fee structure of the UPC.
In related news, a new schedule of official fees shall enter into force at the European Patent Office on 1 April 2016. The new schedule of fees includes relatively modest increases to the European search, examination, renewal and post-grant fees (including fees for filing oppositions, central limitation actions and revocation actions).