The European Patent Office has announced that from 1 April 2014 the rules posing time limits on filing divisional patent applications will be abolished.
The change will enable the filing of divisional applications as long as the earlier (parent) application is pending. The shorter time limit of 24 months from the first communication of the examining division, which was introduced in 2010, is repealed.
The new rules will apply to divisional applications filed on or after 1 April 2014. Hence, even if for an application the 24-month time limit has already expired, it will still be possible to file a divisional application from that date, provided that the application is then still pending. For this reasons it may be desirable for some applications to defer the grant of a patent.
In addition, an additional fee will be introduced to discourage the filing of further divisional applications resulting in multiple generations of divisional applications. This additional fee will apply for the filing of divisional applications in respect of earlier divisional applications. The amount of this additional fee will progressively increase with each generation of divisional applications up to a certain level.