The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced an amendment to its Implementing Rules no. 135 and 164 that regulate priority searches for patent applications entered in the regional phase before the EPO but not complying with the requirement of unity of invention. In order to comply with such requirement, the patent claims have to “relate to one invention only or to a group of inventions so linked as to form a single general inventive concept”.
Under the current rules, when a single patent application entered in the regional European phase comprises more than one invention, the EPO carries out a priority search taking only in consideration the invention first mentioned in the claims.
Any further invention included in the application may be granted protection only by filing divisional applications.
As from November 1st, 2014, in case of patent applications not complying with the requirement of unity of invention, the EPO shall grant the applicant a two months term to require a supplementary search related to the inventions other than the first mentioned in the claims. Such request will be subject to the payment of a fee.