Post-Grant Central Limitation – Instrument for Patent Owners
At the end of 2007, the European Patent Office (EPO) introduced new procedure after which, it became possible for a patentee to seek a central limitation or amend the patent application after grant for the patent.
The central limitation is a procedure by which a patentee can restrict the scope of the claims of their patent at the European Patent Office at any time after grant (except during the appeal procedure or opposition at EPO). If the amendment is allowed, the claims are considered limited from the date of grant of the patent. However, this procedure does not restart the prosecution procedure for the patent. Also, there is no valuation of novelty or inventive step in the amended claims.
On grant, the European patents become separate national patents in the countries in which the patent is legalized. This procedure allows the owner of the patent to limit the scope of the European patent, or revoke the patent. The request for the limitation made with payment of an official fee (1165 EUR) and the proposed amendments. After acceptance of such request, the owner of the patent has to pay the fee for republication of the patent into other official languages of the EPO in the amended form.
The central limitation does not allow the amendment to solve transparency or clarity issue or to add supplementary claims directed towards different subject-matter. There should be a reduction in scope to amend the claims in the granted patent using the central limitation procedure. Non-limiting amendments are allowed if and only if they are consequences of a limitation already present in the claims.
The central limitation is an instrument by which a patentee can limit the scope of the claim after granting of the patent. The central limitation is useful for removing shortfall in a patent claim in all validated states. The procedure of the central limitation is relatively quick and generally concluded in less than a year.