April 1, 2010: Substantial changes to EPO procedures

As you may know, the EPO generally implements fee and procedural changes on 1 April each year. I like to think of it as their way of making sure everyone has a little fun every April Fools’ Day.

This year there are a number of important procedural changes that will apply to PCT applications entering the European regional phase from 1 April 2010.

We will soon provide greater detail about the changes, but in the meantime, important points to note include:

  • A hard time limit on the filing of divisionals will (among other things) bring forward the deadline for divisional filings and remove the ability to file a chain of divisionals from a single parent over an extended time.

  • If the EPO was the International Search Authority (ISA), it will be compulsory for applicants to submit a response addressing the ISR and written opinion.  The deadline for doing this is typically only a few weeks after regional phase entry, so applicants will need to act quickly.

  • There will be some changes to how multiple inventions are handled during examination. In some cases (particularly where there are multiple inventive concepts or independent claims), the order in which claim groups are presented for examination will become more important.

  • Amendments to the claims at regional phase entry will now need to be accompanied by an explanation, including the location of support for any material in the amended claims that came from the specification.

We’ll soon be posting in detail about these points, but please let us know if you have any specific questions in the meantime.



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