Home » What is a Divisional Patent Application? | IP Conversations

What is a Divisional Patent Application? | IP Conversations

Why? What? When? How? These are some of the most used words in John’s dictionary. He’s pretty curious about the workings behind what happens in his life, and many of those have to do with the inventions and the workings of intellectual property in the world around him.

To nobody’s surprise, John’s been learning a lot about patents lately. One of the things he’s delved into are the different types of patents. But this weekend, he came across a type of patent he’s never heard of before. Naturally, IP Geek is here to clarify the situation.

Hello IP Geek.


I was looking into the different types of patents the other day, and I came across something new- a divisional patent. Can you let me know how that is different from a regular patent, and why someone might choose to apply for it instead of a regular patent?

Hi John!


First of all, a divisional patent application is not something you apply for directly. When you are applying for a new patent application, you can either apply with a provisional specification or a complete specification. Other options, like PCT and Paris Convention applications, are also possible.


However, the latter two are just complete applications filed with some additional priority date and international filing concerns in mind.

In contrast, a divisional application only happens after an ordinary patent application is filed. As per the law, each patent should by definition protect only one unified invention. Sometimes, a patent application may end up having more than one distinct invention. 


This is where a divisional application comes in.


Oh I see! That explains the name! So the single application gets split into multiple applications, each of them filing for a distinct invention?

That’s right! Once an application is filed, the applicant can make the decision to convert it into more than one divisional application at any stage before the grant. However, the applicant does need to keep in mind that they can’t add any additional matter in the description that was not there before. 


If you have new matter, filing a new patent might be the better choice. Both the novelty and the patent term for the divisional application would be counted from the date of filing of the original application, so a newer one would expire at a later date.


Hmm. If that’s the case, I wonder why the option exists in the first place. Surely it’s just easier to file distinct patent applications?

It may not always be up to the applicant. While the applicant is allowed to voluntarily convert an application into a divisional application, the examiner may also require an applicant to do this as part of the examination process. 


In other words, it’s always best to file distinct inventions as separate applications from the outset. This can help avoid long delays at the patent office during the examination process. Like I’ve mentioned before, a well-written patent application is much more time and cost-effective in the long run.


Yes! I remember very well how important the initial draft of the invention is- it’s something I’m never going to forget. And thank you so much for explaining, IP Geek!


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