We have learnt that the EPO has made formal proposals to remove the current two-year time limit for filing divisionals.
At the present time applicants may only file voluntary divisionals within two years from the first examination report in a family of applications. Mandatory divisionals due to a unity objection may be filed within two years from the unity objection.
The EPO proposes that applicants should again be able to file divisionals (and divisionals of divisionals) for as long as the original application is pending. The EPO also wants to increase the filing fee for second and subsequent generation divisionals.
The proposals aim for 1 April 2014 to formulate and introduce appropriate amended rules. Under the current proposals, applicants with a pending application (not granted, refused or abandoned) on 1 April 2014, can use it as the basis for a divisional application, even if the current two year limit has expired.
We recommend that you identify currently pending European patent applications where the divisional due date has expired, or will do before 1 April 2014. If you are still interested in filing a divisional from any of these, you should slow prosecution as much as you can. There are techniques enabling you to draw out EPO procedures, and we would be pleased to advise you on those.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.