The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has an enviable reputation of providing a high quality service at a low cost. This makes the UKIPO a very attractive office of choice for filing an initial (priority) application.
In particular, a search and examination report prepared by the UKIPO during the priority year can provide an innovator with helpful insights regarding the prospects of obtaining a granted patent of a commercially interesting scope. Thus, such a report can help applicants decide at the end of the priority year whether or not to pursue patent protection in other markets, e.g. via an international (PCT) application.
Another appealing feature of the UKIPO is that the current fee structure is such that it is possible to establish a priority date without paying any patent office fees.
The government is now proposing changes to the IPO’s fee structure. A consultation was launched earlier this year and the government’s response to the consultation, which discusses the proposed fee increases, can be accessed here.
In summary, it is proposed to increase the application fee, the search fee, the examination fee and some of the renewal fees; and to introduce excess claims fees and excess page fees.
More specifically, the following changes are planned (fees are quoted for electronically filed applications - higher fees apply for paper applications):
-The application fee will increase to £60; and a surcharge of 25% will be payable if the fee is not paid at the time of filing.
-The search fee will increase to £150; and an excess claims fee of £20 for each of the 26th and subsequent claims will be payable.
-The examination fee will increase to £100 and an excess page fee of £10 for each of the 36th and subsequent pages will be payable.
-The renewal fees will increase by £10 for years 12 onwards.
It is encouraging that it will remain possible to obtain a priority filing date without paying any official fees. The increased application, search and examination fees should continue to represent good value for money. However, there is a concern that the excess page and claims fees may disproportionately affect applicants in some areas of technology, such as biotechnology and pharma, where the inclusion of a comprehensive description and supporting examples in the application is a necessity to meet the stringent patentability requirements.
The government plans to introduce these changes by amending the Patents (Fees) Rules 2007 and the Patents Rules 2007. The new fees are expected to come into effect starting 6 April 2018.
On balance, the Government’s view is that it remains right to have a fee structure which – in a general sense – better reflects the work involved in searching and examining the more lengthy applications