Cost-optimized filing strategies for Europe
Costs of a European patent
During the lifetime of a European patent, various cost blocks occur, which can be roughly structured as follows:
- Costs for the preparation of the application
- Costs for the granting procedure (official fees and lawyers' fees)
- Validation costs to activate the patent in each country
- Potentially costs to defend the patent in possible opposition proceedings
- Cost of annual fees
Fees of a European patent: from filing to granting
In addition to the filing fee and the search fee, designation fees and claim fees (for more than 15 patent claims), as well as fees for the examination, granting and publication must be paid. A realistic cost estimate is EUR 5,000 for the preparation of a draft application as well as a cost estimate of e.g. EUR 10,000 for the filing and prosecution of a European patent application.
Costs for defending a patent in opposition proceedings
The costs for defending a patent are only incurred if there is actually an opposition to the patent. They are very difficult to estimate in advance: They strongly depend on the complexity of the patent, the attacks on the patent and the intensity of the defence.
A budget starting at EUR 10,000 is a realistic order of magnitude. The costs can also be much higher, especially if, for example, an enforcement of the patent already takes place.
Validation costs and annual fees
The focus of this blog article is to shed light on the cost of validating a European patent and the cost of renewal fees. The amount of these costs depends very much on the number of countries in which the European patent is validated. A lot of money can be saved here by making a forward-looking validation decision.
Validation costs to activate a patent in individual countries
The validation costs are to be divided into costs for attorney's fees and official fees as well as costs for necessary translations. For validation in all 38 countries of the European Patent Convention, costs of about EUR 50,000 are incurred for a patent with an average length of text.
The costs for maintaining a European patent in all 38 countries of the European Patent Convention for the entire patent term of 20 years amount to approx. 250,000 EUR. This results in total costs of approx. 300,000 EUR.
Cost-optimized filing strategies
For this reason, in the vast majority of cases it makes sense to apply for a European patent only in those European countries where either a favourable ratio of protective effect to costs exists or where special reasons for patent protection exist (e.g. an own production facility or the production facility of a competitor).
In addition, it should be considered when the costs are incurred. While the costs for validation are incurred directly with the grant of the patent, the costs for annuities are incurred in the course of the patent protection period and especially towards the end of this protection period.
Countries that are cheap to validate but expensive in annuities towards the end of the patent protection period may be able to be validated first and then abandoned in time before the annuities have a large impact on the overall cost of the patent.
Favourable in validation are especially countries that are part of the London Convention, as this has greatly reduced translation and representation requirements.
Correlation between GDP/population and validation costs
To achieve a certain comparability of the costs for validation and annual fees in the individual countries, one can relate the costs to the respective gross domestic product as well as the number of inhabitants of the individual countries.
If one takes Germany, for example, as a basis for comparison, it becomes apparent that only the countries Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Turkey are in a similar order of magnitude. This could be a first approach for a reasonable country spectrum, because with these countries a large part of the European market can already be covered. The total cost for validation and annual fees over 20 years for this country spectrum is 50,000 EUR.
In particular smaller countries, such as Albania, Slovenia, Finland or the Baltic States, are very expensive in relation per inhabitant and GDP. It is advisable to actually validate and maintain a European patent in these countries only if there is a concrete reason to do so (e.g. a permanent establishment located there or a competitor).
Overview of the annual official fees of all European countries
We are happy to provide you with an overview of the annual office fees of all European countries. If you would like to get an overview, please contact patent attorney Justus Kreuels by email.
For our clients, we prepare forecasts for the costs of a European patent, taking into account all costs - and including individual translation and legal fees - which enables an optimized strategy for validation and maintenance from a cost-benefit point of view. Please feel free to contact us.
Regarding Justus Kreuels:
Justus Kreuels, German and European Patent Attorney since 2011/2012, studied mechanical engineering at the TU Munich and the RWTH Aachen. He is co-founding partner of karo IP. A main focus of his practice is the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the field of mobile communication, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, etc. in Germany.