EPO to relax rules regarding the deadline for filing divisional applications

22 October 2013

At its meeting on 16 October 2013, the Administrative Council of the EPO agreed important changes in the rules relating to the filing of divisional applications. These changes will take effect from 1 April 2014.

The current version of Rule 36(1) defines deadlines within which so-called “voluntary” and “mandatory” divisional applications may be filed which are linked respectively to the date of the first communication issued by the Examining Division and the date of the communication from the Examining Division raising a non-unity objection for the first time.

These restrictions are to be removed with effect from 1 April 2014.

Therefore, from 1 April 2014 it will be possible for an applicant to file a divisional application based on any pending European patent application, including those pending European patent applications for which the option to file a divisional application had closed under application of the current version of Rule 36(1) EPC.

Applicants should consider taking steps to delay the grant of cases for which the EPO have recently issued a Communication under Rule 71(3) until after 1 April 2014, in order to open up the possibility of filing a divisional application where this option is not currently available. 

The EPO is proposing to introduce an escalating official fee for the filing of a divisional application where the divisional application is itself a divisional application (so-called second or later generation divisionals). It is not expected that this official fee will be prohibitive.

For the official announcement go to http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2013/20131018.html

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