Double patenting refers to the act of one inventor filing for application regarding the same patent. Normally the act of double patenting involves the filing of claim variations on the same patent. It is often a technique used to extend the time frame of a patent. In most countries around the world, double patenting is not allowed. It simply means that two patents cannot be obtained for the same invention by the same person, in the same country or region.
The European Patent Office does not allow such because they hold the principle of one invention not being patentable twice for the same applicant. The EPO Boards Of Appeal has dealt with such cases over the past few years. In the USA double patent rejection can take place on the grounds that an inventor can obtain a patent right and not patents rights for the invention. Double patent rejection can also take place on the grounds that the second filing for variations on a patent may not be accepted if the claims in the patent are not distinguishably different from the previous claims for the same patent filed earlier.
In Singapore one cannot receive more than one patent for the same invention if the priority or filing date is the same. As such Singapore holds that patent rights can be cancelled should such be granted to one of the double patents. The United Kingdom holds the same views, but rather than revoke patent rights simply do not allow for more than one filing for the same patent.
Rejections of patent applications on the grounds of double patenting are often found in cases where continuing applications are filed. It is a complicated matter. Should you require legal assistance in filing a variation on a patent in South Africa, Europe, Singapore or the USA, contact us for assistance today.