European Patent Office (EPO) repeals draconian rules on filing divisional patent applications

The EPO announced on 18 October that, as from 1 April 2014 (yes that is right, April Fool’s Day), it will revert to the rule that an applicant can file a divisional application so long as the parent application is still pending.  The deadline will therefore usually be the day before grant of the parent case. It will, however, remain the case that should the parent application be withdrawn or refused then any required divisional applications must have been lodged whilst the parent case was still validly pending. 

There will be increasing fees for filing a second and subsequent divisional but chaining divisional applications will be possible again.

For some applicants, keeping their patent application pending and delaying grant until after 1 April 2014 may therefore give them options to file divisional applications that they currently do not have. There are some cases where that right has currently been taken away by the EPO’s two-year rule but it will be returned on 1 April 2014 provided that the case is still pending as of that date.

“There are parties in the street and happiness overflows all around me. Many people, including me, lobbied the EPO for this change. I am glad the EPO have put the problem right” said John Lawrence, Senior Partner of Barker Brettell.