Change of the time limit for paying the third year annuity
The administrative council of the European Patent Organisation has changed Rule 51 (1) EPC regarding the advance payment of the third year annuity:
"(1) A renewal fee for the European patent application in respect of the coming year shall be due on the last day of the month containing the anniversary of the date of filing of the European patent application. The renewal fee in respect of the third year may not be validly paid more than six months before it falls due. All other renewal fees may not be validly paid more than three months before they fall due."
The changed phrase is highlighted above.
The change allows applicants of Euro-PCT applications to pay the third renewal fee on regular entry into the European regional phase.
The new rule will enter into force on 1 April 2018 and will apply to any application for which the renewal fee is paid on or after 1 April 2018.
Please note that this means the third year renewal fee can be validly paid six months in advance for European patent applications, for which the third year renewal fee is due on or after 1 October 2018.
The third year renewal fee may not be validly paid more than three months in advance for applications where the third year renewal fee is due before 1 July 2018. For applications, for which the third year renewal fee is due in the time in between, i.e. between 1 July 2018 and 1 October 2018, the advance payment time gradually increases, i.e. the third year renewal fee can be validly paid as from 1 April 2018 ongoing.