European Patent Office repeals 24-month deadline for filing divisional patent applications

European Patent Office repeals 24-month deadline for filing divisional patent applications

In a move being cheered the world over by patent practitioners and patent applicants alike, the EPO has announced an amendment to EPO Rule 36, thereby signaling the end of the 24-month time limit imposed on the filing of European divisional patent applications. The 24-month time limit was enacted back in 2010, and has had few fans.

Under the revised EPO Rules, on and after April 1, 2014, divisional applications may be filed so long as the earlier (parent) application is still pending. There will be a progressively increasing divisional application fee (up to a final flat fee) for each subsequent generation of divisional applications filed, presumably to discourage over-filing of divisional applications.

Practice Tip

For pending EPO applications for which Rule 36 currently bars the filing of a divisional application, keeping the application pending until the April 1, 2014 deadline will allow the case to again be the subject of a divisional application. If you are currently seeking patent protection before the EPO, or if you may be in the future, please feel free to contact us to discuss the Rule change and possible strategies for taking advantage of this significant practice modification.

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