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Your Business First


The Calimero Complex and patents: an honest story about discounts

EP&C Blog Calimero en de octrooien"They're big and I'm little and that's an injustice!"  You may have heard of the cartoon character Calimero who is a small black chicken. Things never seem to go his way while they do for his big friends simply because of his size. In Belgium and the Netherlands this is known as the Calimero Complex and refers to people or businesses that feel they are under-appreciated because of their size. This sometimes also happens in relation to patenting. Big businesses have lots of money at their disposal to protect their intellectual property to the fullest but how about the little Calimeros? From 1 April the European Patent Office (EPO) is going to help smaller businesses with discounts on a number of fees.

Micro entity: discount for the very smallest 

The EPO has always had three categories of entities: small, medium and large. They are now adding an additional category, namely micro entities. The micro category consists of businesses that employ fewer than 10 people and have an annual turnover of up to 2 million. These businesses will receive a 30% discount on the most common fees in the European granting procedure, making this an attractive development.

Costs during the granting procedure

The procedure involved in getting a patent granted spans several years and involves several stages. A fee is payable at the beginning of each stage. On top of that there is an annual renewal fee. I list below the most important fees for you together with the full and discounted fees.

  1. Filing fee: a fee for processing the patent application.
  2. Search fee: a fee for searching publications containing the prior art and for an initial assessment of the novelty and inventiveness of your claimed innovation.
  3. Examination fee: a fee for the substantive assessment of your patent application.
  4. Designation fee: a fee for a selection of European countries.
  5. Grant fee: a fee for formalising the granting of the patent.
  6. Renewal fee: an annual renewal fee.

2024-04 EP&C Blog Calimero en de octrooien-Tabel Fees

Discounts alone are not enough

The EPO is giving discounts to make the patent system more accessible to smaller businesses, such as start-ups. The threshold is being lowered. The Calimeros of this world are being encouraged to take part. After all, we know that businesses with patents are more successful and promising than those without protection for their innovations.

But... the process of getting a patent application drafted and getting the actual patent is costly. Besides the fees, you will also need to budget for the costs of engaging a patent attorney, translations, and various administrative charges. For a unitary patent, these will easily amount to around €25,000. These are costs which, fortunately, you will not have to pay in one go. Moreover, a patent will pay for itself by giving you exclusive rights to making money with your innovation for 20 years. However you will need to invest in it first. So although the EPO is offering a good contribution towards the costs - amounting to roughly 10% of the total amount - whether or not you apply for a patent will not depend solely on this discount.

Even Calimeros can patent

There is no shame at all in being a Calimero among all the big chickens. Little chickens grow into big chickens. They can bring valuable innovations to market and properly protect them with a patent. As long as you as an entrepreneur do your homework well and include financially sound decisions in your business plan, a patent is definitely feasible. Even though the EPO discount is a nice extra, it will not form the basis for this.