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Law & practice

Official Journal February 2022

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Citation: OJ EPO 2022, A18
Online publication date: 28.2.2022

Notice from the European Patent Office dated 16 February 2022 concerning the payment of fees by credit card

By decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 22 August 2017 concerning the payment of fees by credit card (hereinafter "the decision"), the EPO introduced an additional method of fee payment.

The present notice defines the requirements and arrangements for this method of fee payment. It updates the information previously published in the notice from the EPO dated 23 September 2021 concerning the payment of fees by credit card[ 1 ] by providing some clarifications regarding the daily limit for credit card payments in paragraphs 3, 4 and 12.

I. Definitions

1. For the purposes of this notice (and the decision), the following definitions apply:

1.1 "Payment by credit card" means a credit-card-based transaction in which the amount payable is debited in full.

1.2 "Acquirer" means a bank or other financial institution contracting with the EPO to accept, approve and process, on its behalf, payments by credit card which result in a transfer of funds to the EPO. The acquirer settles these payments with the card-issuing banks.

1.3 "Payer" means a natural or legal person who holds a credit card account and allows a payment from that account.

II. Requirements

2. The EPO's credit card fee payment service (hereinafter "the service") is available on the EPO website as an online service.[ 2 ] Users wishing to pay fees by credit card are required to register with a user name (their email address) and a password to access the service. No smart card authentication is needed.

3. The EPO currently accepts the following credit cards: American Express,[ 3 ] Mastercard and Visa. It will bear any transaction-related charges unless the use of the credit card deviates from the applicable rules set forth by the EPO concerning credit card payments.

III. Scope and functionalities

4. The fees payable for a specific application or patent have to be selected by choosing the procedure in question (Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), European Patent Convention (EPC) or, once available, Unitary Patent (UP)). After the fees have been selected, "credit card" has to be chosen as the method of payment. Should the applicant be entitled to a fee reduction (e.g. under Rule 6(3) EPC or in the international filing fee), the payer has to indicate the reduction in question, which will then be applied automatically. A daily limit for credit card payments is set at EUR 10 000 per payer. The use of multiple credit cards is allowed, provided that the daily limit is not exceeded. It remains the payer's responsibility to ensure that the daily limit is not exceeded, irrespective of the number of credit cards used. For the purpose of determining the daily limit per payer, in the case of legal persons, the daily limit will also be considered to have been reached where it is reached using different user accounts of individual employees or different credit cards. In addition, the daily limit will be deemed to have been exceeded where a credit card payment concerning the same subject-matter has been split up among different payers and their individual shares come to a total amount higher than the limit. If the daily limit is exceeded, the EPO may at its own discretion take any measures required by the circumstances to prevent payments which exceed the limit, such as refusing to accept the part of a payment which is over the limit, charging the payer with the transaction-related costs arising from the payment, blocking the credit card used to make the payment for any future payments and/or barring a payer who has repeatedly exceeded the daily limit from continuing to use the service.

5. The service will not actively support functionalities limited to a small number of applications, such as indicating the states for which the designation fee has been paid in the case of applications filed or entering the European phase before 1 April 2009. In such cases, the payer can manually enter, in a dedicated box, the fee amount applicable for the chosen designated states, and submit a separate letter listing them.

6. To pay fees for multiple applications or patents, instead of selecting individual fees for payment, the payer can upload fee payment files (i.e. make a batch payment) by selecting Upload fee payments file in the Fees drop-down menu. Fee payment files can be uploaded in XML format or as CSV files. Once the files have been uploaded, the payer can still edit the fee amounts and add further individual payments by selecting Continue paying fees.

7. As the email address indicated by the payer is the user name for the service, it cannot be used for more than one user account. However, the same credit card can be allocated to multiple user accounts, and multiple credit cards can be allocated to a single user account.

8. To proceed with the payment, the payer must provide all required credit card information, such as its 16-digit number and its security code. The information disclosed by the payer is encrypted, and the credit card details may then be reused for subsequent transactions.

9. After submitting the payment order, the payer will promptly receive a (printable) confirmation on screen that the transaction has been approved, including the date of payment as defined in Article 3 of the decision. This confirmation is issued after the EPO receives approval of the transaction from the acquirer.

10. The time zone for determining the date of payment as defined in Article 3 of the decision is that applicable at the EPO's Munich site, i.e. Central European Time.

11. The service includes a payment history functionality. In this dedicated area of the service, payers may view the fees already paid and download transaction confirmations. Each transaction confirmation includes detailed information about the fees paid for a specific application or patent, and the date on which the transaction was approved.

12. An approved credit card transaction cannot be revoked by or on behalf of the payer.

IV. Refunds

13. Refunds of fees paid by credit card will be subject to the general principles governing refunds at the EPO (e.g. via a deposit account held at the EPO; see Rules relating to Fees, Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, Part A, Chapter X, 10.3). The EPO will not make any refunds into the credit card account.

V. Safeguards

14. Without prejudice to Article 4(2) of the decision, general safeguards under the EPC and PCT will apply if payments made by credit card are delayed, for instance due to the unavailability of, or a general breakdown in, any of the means of electronic communication permitted by the President of the EPO (Rules 134(1) and (5) EPC, Rule 82quater.1(a) PCT).

VI. Entry into force

15. The present notice replaces the notice from the EPO dated 23 September 2021 concerning the payment of fees by credit card with effect from 1 April 2022.