Following our updates on the proposed change to the divisional deadline rule (Sept 2013 & Oct 2013), the EPO Administrative Council has now confirmed that this change will become law.

From 1 April 2014, the new divisional rule will allow applicants to file a divisional application from any pending European patent application.  This change takes the system back to its original form, before the much-maligned divisional deadlines came into force.

If you have a case pending before the EPO, for which the divisional deadline has expired but for which you might be interested in filing a divisional application, we strongly recommend that you keep it pending until 1 April 2014.

The Administrative Council also approved the change to the EPO supplementary search procedures, reported here.  Under the new rule, when the EPO carries out a supplementary search and finds lack of unity of invention, the EPO will give the applicant an opportunity to pay additional search fees, to have one or more of the remaining inventive concepts searched.  This rule change will also come into force on 1 April 2014.

From Dr. Matthew Barton, a UK Chartered Patent Attorney and European Patent Attorney at Forresters:

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