Published by Adrian Hocking on 15th May 2013
In our recent article entitled ‘European Patent Costs – Make Great Savings’, we outlined a number of easy ways to significantly reduce your European patent application costs, both when filing directly at the European Patent Office (‘EPO’) from a domestic patent filing or when entering the European Regional Phase from an international patent application (‘PCT’) at 31 months from the earliest priority date.
Occasionally, we are presented with a European patent specification or an international patent specification having a large number of pages, which on more than one occasion has been over one hundred. As we know, each page in excess of the first 35 articles incurs an ‘excess page’ official fee, which at present is €13 Euros. These ‘excess page’ fees can therefore soon mount up.
So, the question is, how can we limit these ‘excess page’ fees when filing a European patent application or an international PCT patent application ?
Taking the European patent application first, the specification can obviously be formatted if directly filing, for example, when claiming priority from a local or domestic national patent application. However, when entering the European Regional Phase from an international PCT patent application, it is also possible to file reformatted articles containing the same text in an effort to reduce the articles numbers and thus the European Patent Office official fees.
To this end, the margins of the specification can be a minimum of :
Top margin: 2 cm
Left side margin: 2.5 cm
Right side margin: 2 cm
Bottom margin: 2 cm
By stripping out the left side line numbers on the articles, and possibly also the page numbers at the top or bottom, the text of the specification can be expanded out to meet the minimum margin widths. Strictly, page numbers should be provided, but it is likely that the omission of page numbers would not be raised as a formal defect. The page number, if included, must not be within the margin – hence the benefit of omitting the page number so that the text of the specification can extend fully to the top and bottom margins.
The line spacing can also be adjusted. Many specifications use double line spacing. However, by reducing the line spacing to the minimum requirement of 1.5 point, this can also help compact the text and thus reduce the page numbers.
A final tip for a European patent specification is to reduce the size of the font to the minimum of 0.21 mm for capital letters. This equates to 11 point in Times New Roman. By reducing the font from the normal 12 point to 11 point can also help compact the text and thus reduce the overall page number.
Turning now to the international patent application (‘PCT’), this has largely similar requirements to that of the European patent application. The margin sizes as mentioned above are the same, although the font size for capital letters must be a minimum of 0.28 mm, not the 0.21 mm for European patent applications. Again, a specification formatted with Times New Roman of 11 point would probably be accepted.
The minimum line spacing is also 1.5, which can be useful in compacting the text.
Other tips which can be considered are stripping out tabbing for new paragraphs, and also ‘condensing’ the spacing between individual letters of words. In this latter case, the rules for text in the specifications of European patent applications and international patent applications make no mention of spacing between letters, and by reducing this spacing as much as possible whilst still retaining legibility, again can help in reducing an overall number of articles.
The above pointers provide a number of useful options to bear in mind when trying to reduce your overall costs associated with the official fees payable to the European Patent Office when filing your European patent application or your European Regional Entry of an international PCT patent application.