Reversion to Prior Practice on Filing Divisional Applications in the European Patent Office
In April 2010, the rules for filing divisional applications in the European Patent Office (EPO) were amended to require that in general any divisional application had to be filed within 24 months of the first official action on the application on which the divisional was based or any antecedent thereof. The intention was to limit the number of divisionals filed because of what were perceived as being abuses of the system by keeping unexamined divisionals pending so that they could be “tailored” to later needs. However, the problems caused by this rule change became greater than the problem it sought to solve. On October 17, the Administrative Council of the EPO voted to repeal the 2010 rule change so that from April 1, 2014, divisional applications will be permitted at any time during the pendency of the parent application. The change applies to any application still pending on that date.
In an effort to discourage “multi-generational” divisional strategies, higher fees will be required for “second generation” and later generation divisionals filed after April 1, 2014, than for divisionals arising directly from the parent application. Such fees have been fixed at
- fee for a divisional application of second generation € 210
- fee for a divisional application of third generation € 420
- fee for a divisional application of fourth generation € 630
- fee for a divisional application of fifth or any subsequent generation € 840.