26 Jan 2018

J 0007/81 - (Classic) Payment to bank account held by EPO

Key points

  • By way of exception, today a post about an old decision: J 7/81. 
  • Article 5(1) Rfees indicates that there are two methods of payment: " by payment or transfer to a bank account held by the Office" (next to those allowed under Article 5(2) Rfees, e.g. debit orders). 
  • Article 7(3)(a) Rfees gives the rule that payment can be considered made in time if the payer " effected the payment through a banking establishment" before the end of the time limit (the other possibility is that the payer " duly gave an order to a banking establishment to transfer the amount of the payment" 
  • Personally, I only use bank transfer (logging in on the bank's website and giving the transfer order). Being a millennial, I have wondered for some time what "payment to a bank account held by the Office" in Rfees 5(1) actually means.
  • J 7/81 gives an answer: in the old days when the EPO had numerous bank accounts with numerous banks, you could go with some cash to a branch of the bank, and pay the sum in cash at the counter " for the EPO account" . The bank would take the cash, and credit the EPO account (kept by it) with the sum. 
  • In J 7/81, the cash was accepted by one branch, but the EPO account was kept (on paper?) in another branch. The latter branch was informed of the payment only after some delay and after the expiration of the time limit, and credited the EPO account accordingly also after the time limit. In J 7/81, it was confirmed that the date of payment was the date the EPO account was credited, not the date of cash receipt. 

EPO J 0007/81 (J 7/81) - link

Summary of Facts and Submissions
I. The European patent application concerned (not published) was filed on 28 November 1980. On 2 March 1981 the sum of FF 5 290, paid by the applicant and covering the amount of FF 4 500 for the filing and search fees, was entered in the EPO account. It has been established that this sum was paid in cash on 29 December 1980 by the applicant at the counter of the Auxerre (Yonne) branch of the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) marked "for the EPO account". This banking establishment's agency in Paris, "France étranger", claimed however not to have received the necessary instructions to credit the EPO until 2 March 1981.

Reasons for the Decision
4. The date of the payment in suit could not be that stated on the "cash receipt" given by the bank to the debtor: 29 December 1980, but the date on which the sum was credited to the EPO: 2 March 1981. This is clear from Article 8 of the Rules relating to Fees which leaves no room for uncertainty in interpretation. [...] A cash payment to a bank in the national currency of the country in which the bank is located [...] constitutes a payment to a bank account held by the Office, which is therefore not deemed to be made until the date on which the sum is entered in that account.

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