The official fee for designation of states on European Patent applications reduces on April 01, 2009.
Previously the fee was 85 Euro per state up to seven states, with payment of the fees for all seven states of 595 Euro being taken as payment for all contracting states of the European Patent Convention.
In practice, relatively few European patent applications are filed which designate less than seven states, and so the European Patent Office have simplified the designation fee to a single fee of 500 Euro which covers all EPC contracting states.
Following on from the London Agreement implementation at the end of the European procedure, which came into force last year and in which the states of Switzerland CH, Germany DE, France FR, United Kingdom GB, and Leichenstein LI are automatically validated at the end of the EPC procedure, the amendment to the designaton fee during the prosecution stage means that the European Patent Application is now a unitary right covering all 34 EPC contracting states during the application phase up to grant, and after grant covers at least 5 EPC states by default.
The change represents a further incremental step towards the European Patent becoming a truly pan European right, both during the application phase and for the remainder of the maximum 20 year term from filing.
As further states implement the London Agreement, the European Patent will become effective in those states at the end of the prosecution phase and the European patent is inexorably moving towards the stage where there will be little or no need for individual national patent procedures in individual European states.
However, it has taken more than 30 years to get to the present level of regionalisation, and it can be expected that it will be 5 to 10 years at least before the European patent reaches its full pan European potential.
Article Published March 30th, 2009