New rules relating to the reimbursement of the appeal fee.
According to the decision of the Administrative Council of the EPO of 12 December 2019, Rule 103 EPC, which relates to the reimbursement of the appeal fee, was amended as follows:
(1) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed in full (a) in the event of interlocutory revision or where the Board of Appeal deems an appeal to be allowable, if such reimbursement is equitable by reason of a substantial procedural violation, or (b) if the appeal is withdrawn before the filing of the statement of grounds of appeal and before the period for filing that statement has expired.
(2) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed at 75% if, in response to a communication from the Board of Appeal indicating its intention to start substantive examination of the appeal, the appeal is withdrawn within two months of that communication.
(3) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed at 50% if the appeal is withdrawn after expiry of the period under paragraph 1(b), provided withdrawal occurs:
(a) if a date for oral proceedings has been set, within one month of notification of a communication issued by the Board of Appeal in preparation for these oral proceedings;
(b) if no date for oral proceedings has been set, and the Board of Appeal has issued a communication inviting the appellant to file observations, before expiry of the period set by the Board for filing observations;
(c) in all other cases, before the decision is issued.
(4) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed at 25%
(a) if the appeal is withdrawn after the expiry of the period under paragraph 3(a) but before the decision is announced at oral proceedings;
(b) if the appeal is withdrawn after expiry of the period under paragraph 3(b) but before the decision is issued;
(c) if any request for oral proceedings is withdrawn within one month of notification of the communication issued by the Board of Appeal in preparation for the oral proceedings, and no oral proceedings take place.
(5) The appeal fee shall be reimbursed under only one of the above provisions. Where more than one rate of reimbursement applies, reimbursement shall be at the higher rate.
(6) The department whose decision is impugned shall order the reimbursement if it revises its decision and considers reimbursement equitable by reason of a substantial procedural violation. In all other cases, matters of reimbursement shall be decided by the Board of Appeal.”
In the above version of Rule 103 EPC, the amendments compared to the previous version are underlined.Therefore, the new Rule 103 EPC now sets four levels of reimbursement of the appeal fee (100%, 75%, 50% and 25%), compared to only two levels (100% and 50%) in its previous version.
Rule 103 as amended above enters into force on 1 April 2020. It shall apply to appeals pending at the date of entry into force, and to appeals filed after that date.
At the same time, an increase of the appeal fee from 2255 euros to 2705 euros, corresponding to an increase of about 20% was decided by the EPO and the new amount will also be due from 1 April 2020.
As a consequence, in case an appeal is to be filed before the EPO with a deadline for filing the appeal expiring after 1 April, 2020, it may be worthwhile to file the appeal and pay the appeal fee before 1 April 2020.
This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.