Unitary Patent Court – Fees Proposal

CONSULTATION ON THE RULES FOR COURT FEES

On 8th May the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) published proposed fees for the Court which will come into effect once 13 countries have signed the UPC agreement. Responses to the proposal by the end of July are welcomed.

Introduction

The Court costs for the Unified Patent Court seem significantly higher than those of the UK High Court, with the cost for actions for infringement at €11,000 and revocation actions (including counterclaims) at €20,000. In addition to this, for claims with a value of greater than €500,000, there are additional ‘value-based’ fees that scale with the size of the claim (typically between 0.5% and 1% of the claim value). Despite these high costs, these will only form a small part of the other associated costs of litigation. Should the owner of a European Patent, not part of the Unitary Patent System, wish to opt out of the Unified Patent Court and instead litigate in national courts, the fee for doing so is currently set at €80. (It should be noted that the opt out feature is only available for the first 7 years of the Unitary Patent System. After this time, litigation of all European Patents will occur under the Unitary Patent Court.)

As one of the aims of the UPC System is to be fair and accessible to all, in particular small and medium-sized-enterprises, non-profit organisations and universities, two alternative approaches of offering reduced fees have been proposed.

The first proposed scheme is based on rewarding behaviour that results in a reduced burden on the Court’s services. If an action is withdrawn or settled prior to the conclusion of oral proceedings, the costs may be reduced by up to 60%. Alternatively, if an action is heard by a single judge, a reimbursement of 25% shall apply. Although this scheme does not target small and medium-sized-businesses directly, it is expected that these users shall benefit the most of these reductions.

As an alternative to this, the Preparatory Committee have suggested a scheme to more directly target small and medium-sized-businesses (and other non-profit organisations), whereby these parties shall only incur the fixed court fees and will not be charged the additional value-based fees.

The proposal also makes allowances for cases where the Court fees threaten the economic existence of one of the parties. In these cases, the Court has discretion to reduce the payable fees, after considering all relevant circumstances.

The full Consulation Document can be found at: http://www.unified-patent-court.org/images/documents/court_fees_and_recoverable_costs_consultation.pdf. Responses should be sent to the Secretariat of the Unified Patent Court by 31st July 2015, if users would like their opinions taken into consideration.