In September 2010, IP Australia began employing a case management approach for divisional applications. This case management approach involved:
- expediting examination of all divisional applications; and
- in cases where an identical objection to that of the parent application was raised against the divisional application, IP Australia imposed a two month response deadline.
The shortened response deadlines have been particularly onerous for overseas applicants, who, once the report had been referred from Australian patent attorneys, and then from their overseas associates, only had a short time to consider options for responding.
Short term relief has been provided by way of a 1 November 2012 update to the Patent Manual of Practice & Procedure. A decision has been made to ‘temporarily suspend’ the case management approach of divisional applications so that normal deadlines will apply. This decision was made due to the workload of the patent office and to manage backlogs.
Although no systematic approach is currently in place, we understand that short response deadlines may still be applied to applications on a case-to-case basis. Also, the case management procedure still applies in cases where an examination report has already issued.