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An international application filed via the European patent office. I would like to see an overview of the total cost in the canonical case, I mean:

  • the PCT is approved
  • the subsequent European patent is approved
  • the maintenance fees are paid until the patent expires.

Actually such a trivial information is very difficult to find. The WIPO and the EPO websites provide a lot of information about the filing fees, but no information about the maintenance fees. Search engines point to sites set up by lawyers or agencies that spam your search, but offer no information.

I just know that the first maintenance fee kicks in three years from the filing date. Is there a place that lists all the fees? Is there any comparison with the cost of a US patent?

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It is complicated but the data is there. Take the U.S. example. The USPTO publishes a fee schedule, but they can change the amounts over time. There is a window to pay each of the fees (at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years). You can't prepay before the window becasue they might raise the fees.

In the rest of the world the fees are called "renewal fees" and, in most places are annual. Here is a like to the German patent office's fee chart. They are not hard to find if you use the search term "renewall", but they can be scattered.

They also can change the fees. In many places the fees are due while the application is pending in the national stage.

You mention the step of getting a patent approved by the EPO. Until very recently, that only got you the right to have it "validated" (more money) in individual EPO counties. Besides the EPO renewal fees, each of those places will have its own renewal fees. (There is now a "Unitary" European patent (enforceable) that has just gotten of the ground.)

This complexity is the reason commercial entities have systems to help you estimate the costs. The commercial companies who facilitate paying renewal fees keep track of the current fees and rules. Also, while prepaying years far in advance is not allowed, there can be be discounts for early payments and there are penalties for late payments. These firms can help optimize to your priorities for cash flow timing and discounted fees.

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  • Thank you. The renewal keyword is what I was missing.
    – FluidCode
    May 10 at 17:42
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Here you have the fees at the EPO. Typically, the EPO raises its fees on the 1st of April every two years. The fees were raised in 2022. In section Renewal Fees of the link you will find the annuities that must be paid to the EPO while the EP application is pending. Once the patent issues, the renewal fees will have to be paid to the patent offices of the countries where you validate the European patent. Each country has its own renewal fees; their fees, if raised, are typically raised on the 1st of January of each year.

The EPO provides what is called National Law relating to the EPC that is a compendium of the particularities of each country with regards to different aspects of European patents, that way you do not have to delve into the national patent laws of each country. Among the information provided, here you can find the renewal fees of each country where you can validate a European patent.

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