The effect of rule 36


Marianne Holme

In WIPR Issue 6 2010, we discussed the new divisional system under Rule 36 EPC, which stipulates a 24-month deadline triggered by the examining division’s first communication in respect of the earliest application for which a communication pursuant to Article 94(3) EPC has been issued, or any other communication from the European Office Patent (EPO) in which the examining division raises a specific non-unity objection under Article 82 EPC for the first time.

In that article we predicted that the number of divisional applications would increase substantially. We have looked at the number of EP filings since the entry into force of new Rule 36 EPC.

The EPO received 235,000 European patent filings in 2010, 11 percent more than in 2009, which at that time was the highest number ever in the EPO’s history. In 2011, the EPO received 243,000 applications, 3 percent more than in 2010. In a press release of January 2013, the EPO announced that in 2012, it received 258,000 patent applications, a 5.7 percent increase over 2011.

The press release cited a passage from a speech made by the president of the EPO: “This new peak in European patent filings for the third year in a row shows that companies from Europe and around the world are continuing to seek protection for their inventions, and that Europe remains an attractive market for new technologies.” But these numbers included divisional EP applications, so was the increase the consequence of new Rule 36 that entered into force on April 1, 2010?

EPC, european patent, EPO