Epo rule changes 2010 nicholas fox
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EPO RULE CHANGES 2010 Nicholas Fox. EPO Rule Changes. Changes in search procedures Changes to divisional practice Changes to examination procedure. CHANGES IN EPO SEARCH PROCEDURES. Reasons not to search. Lack of unity Lack of statutory subject matter

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EPO RULE CHANGES 2010 Nicholas Fox

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Epo rule changes 2010 nicholas fox

EPO RULE CHANGES

2010

Nicholas Fox


Epo rule changes

EPO Rule Changes

  • Changes in search procedures

  • Changes to divisional practice

  • Changes to examination procedure


Changes in epo search procedures

CHANGES IN EPO SEARCH PROCEDURES


Reasons not to search

Reasons not to search

  • Lack of unity

  • Lack of statutory subject matter

  • Claims too broad for a meaningful search

  • Claims too unclear

  • Too many independent claims


Claims unclear

Claims unclear

  • EPO will ask for clarification of what is to be searched

  • Response due within 2 months

  • If clarification sufficient, EPO will use that to conduct the search rather than the wording of the claims

  • Otherwise no search conducted


Too many independent claims

Too many independent claims

  • Process similar to US restriction requirement

  • Election of claims due within 2 months

  • EPO will search only the elected claims or if no election made just the first independent claim in each category


Problems

Problems

  • No appeal when the search is undertaken – can only object later during examination

  • Any unsearched claims mustbe deleted from the application unless Examining Division persuaded restriction was in error

  • Any amendments must still be based on the content of the application as filed


An example

An example

1) A cat flap pre-activated using a time machine.

2) A cat flap lifted using anti-gravity plates.

3) A cat flap powered by a perpetual motion device.


Result

Result

  • Too many independent claims

  • EPO will ask which is to be searched

  • Result only one claim searched

  • Other claims must be deleted


Second attempt

Second attempt

1) A cat flap.

2)as 1 pre-activated using a time machine.

3) as 1 lifted using anti-gravity plates.

4) as 1 powered by a perpetual motion device.


Result1

Result

  • EPO object claim 1 too broad to search/ the invention to be searched is unclear

  • EPO will ask for clarification of invention

  • Result only one claim searched

  • Other claims must be deleted


Solution

Solution

  • Claims must be in European style on filing to avoid having to pay extra search fees/ file divisional applications

  • Must draft claim 1 to cover unifying inventive concept

  • Normally only independent claim allowed per category e.g. method, apparatus etc.

  • Only very limited exceptions e.g. plug and socket, transmitter/receiver inventions


Changes to divisional practice

CHANGES TO DIVISIONAL PRACTICE


New deadline for filing divisional applications

New deadline for filing divisional applications

1)Within 24 months from first communication from Examining Division on the earliest application

2) Within 24 months from when a lack of unity objection is raised for the first time

3) Divisional applications can still be filed on any pending application up until 10.1.2010


Example 1 first examination report before october 1 2008

Example 1- First Examination Report before October 1, 2008

  • 3.1.2008 – 1st Examination Report

  • 3.1.2010 – 2 year anniversary

    (i.e. before 10.1.2010)

    Deadline for filing divisional applications

    10.1.2010


Example 2 first examination report after october 1 2008

Example 2 - First Examination Report after October 1, 2008

  • 6.1.2009 – 1st Examination report

  • 6.1.2011 – 2 year anniversary of

    1st examination report

    (i.e. after 10.1.2010)

    Deadline for filing divisional applications is

    2 year anniversary in this case 6.1.2011


Example 3 deadline extended by late lack of unity objection

Example 3 – Deadline extended by late lack of unity objection

  • 6.1.2009 – 1st examination report on parent application notraising lack of unity

  • 5.1.2010 – Divisional filed

  • 6.1.2011 – 2 year anniversary– normal deadline for filing any further divisionals

  • 10.1.2013 – Lack of unity objection raised for the first time in examination report on divisional application

    Deadline for filing divisional of divisional

    extended to10.1.2015


The big problem

The BIG problem

Divisional filing deadline is NOT extended by an unsearched subject matter objection

Example:

6.1.2009 – 1st examination report

6.1.2011 – 2 year anniversary of 1st examination report – divisional deadline

10.1.2011 – Unsearched subject matter objection

Not possible to file a divisional application to protect unsearched subject matter


Action required now

Action required now

  • All existing applications must be checked now to see if any divisional filings are required

  • Deadline for most older cases will be

    October 1, 2010 after which no further divisional filings can be made


More recent cases

More recent cases

  • Going forward you will have 2 years notice of the deadline for filing divisional applications

  • First examination report from the Examination Division triggers deadline for all cases in a family

  • N.B. EESR issued with search report is not issued by the Examination Division


Late divisionals

Late divisionals

  • Extensions caused by the EPO raising lack of unity at a late stage will be rare

  • Normally late objections will only arise if new prior art is discovered which invalidates unifying concept of claim 1

  • Examining Division need not object to lack unity if other grounds of objection exist so manufacturing a late lack of unity objection will be difficult


Strategy

Strategy

  • If ESSR raises a lack of unity objection on an initial filing you should amend the claims to overcome the objection before the first letter from the Examining Division to preserve the possibility of extensions

  • Conversely if a lack of unity objection is raised on a divisional application arguments should be presented so the Examining Division can trigger an extension


Changes to examinaton procedure

CHANGES TO EXAMINATON PROCEDURE


European extended search report

European Extended Search Report

  • EESR will now set a deadline for response

  • This is the only opportunity to make amendments as of right

  • Examining Division can issue a Summons to Oral Proceedings as next step if response is not satisfactory


Basis for amendment

Basis for amendment

  • EPO have always required attorneys to provide basis for any amendments made

  • Rules introduce a new power to set a

    1 month deadline for correcting the deficiency if basis is not identified or insufficiently identified

  • The 1 month deadline can only be extended using further processing and payment of a fee


Euro pct applications

Euro-PCT applications

  • If EPO was ISA or IPEA, mustrespond to objections raised by EPO during the International Phase when entering regional phase

  • If no response filed on entry EPO will set 1 month deadline for filing a response

  • The 1 month deadline can only be extended using further processing and payment of a fee


Summary

Summary

  • Urgent action required to establish if any divisional applications need to be filed on older cases

  • EPO is reducing the opportunities to make changes before a Summons to Oral Proceeding is issued

  • Restrictions on divisional applications remove the options for keeping applications pending or for changing tack later on during prosecution


Nicholas fox nicholas fox@ipasset com

NICHOLAS [email protected]


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