On 1 April 2014, a new rule came into force at the EPO. The rule relates to divisional patent applications and applies to applications filed on or after that date. The new rule effectively repeals the unpopular (and largely ineffective) previous 24-month time limits for the filing of divisional applications.
The new rule allows the filing of divisional patent applications as long as the earlier (parent) application is pending. However, as with the previous rule, this rule comes with a disincentive: there is an additional fee payable for with the application fees. The amount of the additional fee grows progressively with each subsequent generation of divisional applications. The official fee starts at €210 and when it reaches €840 for a fifth divisional patent application it becomes a flat fee for subsequent divisional application. The generation of the new divisional is governed by which application (divisional or parent) is the basis for the new divisional patent application.