Changes to patent fees coming in April 2018

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is currently undergoing a major investment programme which will see improvements in its electronic services, increased examination capacity and (hopefully) faster processing times. In March 2017 the UKIPO published a document summarising its “Proposed changes to statutory patent fees” in support of this programme. Following responses to their proposals, and a Government consultation, patent fees are now set to increase on 6 April 2018.

The last time that the statutory fees for patent protection changed was in April 2010 and the UKIPO charges some of the lowest in the world (which will still be true after the changes take place). The greatest changes are to the application, search and examination fees. As is currently the case, it will still be cheaper to file applications online, but now there will be a 25% surcharge where application fees are not paid on filing.

Fees for online filing*
Before 6 April 2018 After 6 April 2018
Application fee £20 £60
Search fee (UK search) £130 £150
Search fee (International application) £100 £120
Substantive examination fee £80 £100
Excess claim fee (more than 25 claims) £0 £20 per excess claim
Additional page fee (more than 35 pages) £0 £10 per excess page

The UKIPO is a trading fund which means it needs to be able to cover its costs through fees. However, in order to encourage innovation and to support new businesses (not to mention creative individuals) it’s important that the fees are kept as low as reasonably possible, at least in the initial stages of application.

A compromise has been reached by keeping the application and pre-grant fees low (currently the official fees charged by the UKIPO can be comfortably under £400 to get a patent granted) whilst renewal fees currently start at £70 in year 5 and increase year on year up to £600 by year 20. In this way more successful inventions will tend to cost the proprietor more than less successful inventions. This is particularly important to new businesses who might otherwise struggle with higher fees during their first few years.

Typically, the UKIPO only breaks even on a patent that remains in force for 15 years or more. From April 2018, renewal fees from the twelfth year onward are also set to increase, allowing the UKIPO to break even just slightly earlier.

Renewal fees
Patent year Before 6 April 2018 After 6 April 2018
Year 5 £70 £70
Year 6 £90 £90
Year 7 £110 £110
Year 8 £130 £130
Year 9 £150 £150
Year 10 £170 £170
Year 11 £190 £190
Year 12 £210 £220
Year 13 £250 £260
Year 14 £290 £300
Year 15 £350 £360
Year 16 £410 £420
Year 17 £460 £470
Year 18 £510 £520
Year 19 £560 £570
Year 20 £600 £610

The changes are designed to help the UKIPO to be more efficient, with clear incentives for applicants to submit more concise, clearer patents and to submit them online. The anticipated faster processing times would be of benefit to anyone applying for a new patent in the UK.

However, many businesses will be disappointed by the introduction of excess claim and page fees. It is common to file broad priority applications at the UKIPO containing a large number of claims, particularly where a client’s new product embodies two or more inventive concepts, with a view to reducing the number of claims or filing divisional applications later on (for example, when filing abroad at the end of the priority year after reviewing the results of the UK search report(s)). Applicants will now have to think more carefully about whether to file multiple separate applications up front. On a more positive note, however, the excess claims fees will not become payable until a search is requested; it will therefore still be possible to use a UK application to achieve a priority date for a large amount of subject matter at low cost.

Additionally, even with these increases, the cost of getting a patent in the UK and maintaining it throughout its 20 year lifespan is still substantially less than in other territories, including Germany, France and the US. The search fees in particular remain very low and offer valuable information for any inventor who might need to decide which inventions to pursue through to grant.

Rebecca Douglas

*Excluding the 25% surcharge if the application fee is not paid on filing.

This entry was posted in UK Patents.

Hindles team continues to grow

As part of our commitment to strengthen our trade mark team, we’re delighted that Zahra Panchbhaya has joined us as a Trainee Trade Mark Attorney.

Zahra recently graduated with a law degree from the University of Dundee and will be working alongside our Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys, Alistair Hindle and Rowena Bercow as they provide a wide range of trade mark services for entrepreneurial brands. We secure international trade mark protection for a range of clients and provide appropriate advice in the event of any disputes.

Alistair comments: “Zahra’s appointment comes at a time when our trade mark department is going from strength to strength. The standard of applicants for the trainee position was extremely high but Zahra impressed us with her expertise and commitment to excellence. We are pleased to support Zahra as she completes her training to be a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney and know she will be an excellent addition to our team.”

If you have a trade mark concern you’d like to discuss with a member of our team, call +44 (0)131 243 0660 or click here.

We’re currently recruiting a trainee patent attorney. Click here for more information.

This entry was posted in Company News.