The European Patent Office has issued today an English version of its notice of 29 June 2010 (previously available only in German) concerning communications under amended Rule 161 EPC (thank you, Birgit Clark and Simon Roberts, for the pointer!). The notice concerns the calculation of the time limit according to Rule 36 EPC, brought in on 1 April 2010 (noted on IPKat here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Under Rule 36, divisionals must be filed within two years from a non-unity objection or from the first communication from the Examining Division. The question is: what is a communication from the Examining Division, namely, is a communication under Rule 161 a communication in the sense of Rule 36? The short answer is no:
A communication under Rule 161 EPC (both in its amended form as well as in the version applicable until 31 March 2010), despite emanating from the examining division in compliance with Rule 10 EPC, is not a substantive communication within the meaning of amended Rule 36(1) EPC and therefore does not cause the time limit for the filing of voluntary or mandatory divisional applications to start.Practitioners are advised to read the notice in full here.