You can't blame the applicant for trying, but of course the EPO charges the most recent fees for a divisional filing, not the fees that had to be paid at the filing date of the earlier application, as explained in detail by the Legal Board of Appeal in the current case. It is a matter of interpretation because the law lacks an explicit outline that a divisional might encounter higher filing and search fees. Although G 3/98 concerned Art 55 EPC, the Board in this case indicates that it should be viewed in a broader sense than only in relation to Art 55 EPC. Moreover, the filing fees serve the purpose of the filing requirements (submitted documents, etc.), not the substantive prior art issues that relate to the fictitious filing date from the earlier application (or even the priority filing).
Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. European patent application No. 11 004 301.5 was received at the EPO on 25 May 2011. It was filed as a divisional of European patent application No. 03 746 402.1 (the earlier/parent application), which had been filed on 3 April 2003.
II. Together with the application documents, the EPO received Form 1010 listing the fees to be debited in respect of the divisional application from the account of the applicant's representative. The amount of the search fee was given as 800 euro. An accompanying letter contained the explicit instruction that, if any of the amounts indicated in the form were wrong, the right amounts were to be debited from the account.
III. With a communication dated 20 July 2011 the applicant was informed that the correct amount of the search fee payable in the present case was 1105 euro, so that an additional 305 euro would be debited from the representative's account. It was further set a two-month time limit for filing reasoned objections to that finding.
IV. By fax dated 28 July 2011 the applicant did so, arguing that "since the filing date of the present application is 3 April 2003, the correct amount of the European search fee is 800 EURO" and requesting either a refund or an appealable decision.