Word has it that the EPO is rethinking the deeply unpopular two-year time limit for filing divisional applications (Rules 36 (1)(a) and (b)). The EPO will table the issue at the next Committee on Patent Law meeting.
The EPO have invested much in the divisional two-year time limit and have recently initiated notifications dedicated to advising applicants of the divisional time limit. Much of this infrastructure will be torn down if the time-limits are cancelled.
If this U-turn comes to fruition then, instead of the time-limits, the EPO may well implement escalating divisional filing fees tied to the “age” of the divisional application. Applicants wishing to file divisionals late in the life of an application will face nothing unusual in terms of fees which increase with age: such late divisionals have always been expensive because of the number of back-renewals payable on filing to the EPO.
We will update you as soon as we have more details, including any retrospective effects or transitional provisions.