Wednesday, April 1, 2020

EQE2020 in September (if possible)?

Glad to see that the epi just posted a general update including a note about the postponement, as well as a link to the letter from the epi President to the EPO.
It highlights the desire by the epi to have the EQE go ahead, as well as acknowledging many of the problems that would need to be solved.

"epi letter to the EPO regarding the EQE cancellation
You are no doubt aware that the March EQE session was cancelled, and that it is planned to organise a postponed session in September, if possible. In this regard, the Presidium has decided to send a letter to the President of the EPO, which is published here."

The purpose of the letter was to request the EPO's support so that every possible resource available in the EPO can be used to organise a postponed EQE 2020 - in particular, the finding of suitable locations at suitable dates, the registration of candidates, the invigilation, and above all the marking process. They note that the availability of additional marking capacity among epi members may be limited when the time line is shifted.

It also mentioned:
  • ... no firm plans can be made until it is sufficiently certain that the epidemic will be under control, and trusts that every possible option is being explored.
  • The ideal situation would be one where the postponed 2020 EQE is organised in such a way that the results are available by end October 2020, in time for the candidates to catch up with the normal timeline. Candidates who failed one or more papers of the main EQE could still register for the 2021 EQE and follow the special trainings for re-sitters. 
  • We trust that the Supervisory Board will take all necessary decisions to implement exceptions in order to make that happen. Exceptions one might consider encompass abbreviated registration periods for re-sitters. Another possible exception is to skip the pre-examination. In view of Article 11(7) REE, it would not be necessary to organise a pre-examination, but if one is organised, the candidates who passed the pre­-examination would still have time to register for the 2021 EQE and follow the usual trainings.
  • At the same time, the EQE 2021 should be prepared in parallel and should not be put at risk.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

EQE-disaster recovery plan

What a nightmare - as far as I know, the EQE has never been cancelled. For those who were ready to take the exam, it feels like the end of the world.
I saw a lot of negative comments about the EPO, but you shouldn't blame the messenger. The Boards are comprised equally of EPO and epi members, and they were working tirelessly until the last moment to find some way to let it go ahead.
Take some time off now: relax in the weekends, do other things, and try to think of positive things you can do. You can certainly take off the days that you were supposed be doing exams, and do some of the things that you postponed due to your intense study schedule.
Prepare your 4-6 week intensive schedule: if it is rescheduled, they should give you 4-6 weeks notice (a reasonable time to book flights/hotels). If you were ready for the exam in 2 weeks time, you can be ready again.
Decide on your low-level schedule: For some people, it may be a good idea to continue studying at some level:

  • Organise your legal materials a little better (a lot of the current legal reference books started life as someone's well-organised EQE notes). 
  • Use your legal knowledge more in your daily work (see if a colleague needs help with an office action or opposition, give a presentation to your office, check whether your office procedures meet "all due care", teach subjects to trainees, write a legal article). 
  • Regularly do papers, and legal questions, even ones you have already done
  • Regularly do A and DII - theses are the two papers that are the closest to real life, and directly benefit your practical skills. For exam preparation, you can never do enough of these papers. And for A, try some of the other technology papers as well.
  • See the great initiative here on LinkedIn for refresher workshops

Think about other improvements: ... and don't forget your physical/mental well-being

  • for example, read this LinkedIn post about meditation & exercise
  • discuss any issues and worries with other candidates, tutors, etc
  • be prepared not to attend any exams (or work) if you are sick or may be contagious

Prepare for three scenarios:
I have no insider information, but I know something about how the exam is organised. There is only one exam for each paper, so they cannot hold the same paper on different days or at different times. But they could try to arrange the papers in different weeks, for example, or at least organise papers with the most preparation for candidates = Pre-Exam & Paper D.
1) Rescheduling for May/June July/August
Earlier than that seems unlikely. A lot of the cancellations and closures are official reactions to increases in cases, but each country has a different philosophy. So the earliest would be about 4-6 weeks after there is a continuous decline in cases (earliest measurable in April). Registration deadlines for EQE 2021 may need to be postponed.
Updated (21/03/20): May/June seems unlikely now. Normally, having exams during the summer would be impossible to arrange, but these are not normal times.
Updated (1/4/20): September seems to be being considered - see separate post
2) Rescheduling for September/October
This seems to be most likely if they are to reschedule. But this may conflict with some national exams, so maybe you have to change the order of preparation. They may have to delay EQE 2021 as well to get everything to fit.
Update (1/4/20): at least Registration deadlines for EQE 2021 will need to be postponed.
3) No Exam in 2020, wait for EQE 2021
I hope not. But even for EQE 2021 to go ahead with some certainty, they will already need to consider a lot of changes and back-up plans. For example: more online sitting of exams, moving the EQE to May each year, having max. 50 people per room, using testing locations outside big cities (plenty of places in central Europe), change system to fewer exams to pass, offer Pre-Exam more frequently, shorter exams
Be prepared for more inconvenience in the future:
All international events, meetings, exams etc will have to have a plan for the future to reduce risk from any virus, not just Corona COVID-19, and have an emergency plan. For example: instructing people not to travel / attend if you are sick, having a policy for visibly sick people = refused access or removed or given a mask or moved to a separate room, temperature measurement, providing masks / soaps / handgels for more cleaning, disinfecting rooms, disinfecting answer papers, no handshaking (like in hospitals) etc.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Possible questions on "recent" legal changes - EQE 2020

The law being tested at EQE 2020 is theoretically the status on 31 Oct 2019. Unless specified otherwise, "today" on the exam is the actual day of the exam (16 or 17 Mar 2020), so the law of 31 Oct 2019 should be applied to these situations. In particular, fee amounts valid on this date should be used when specifically required to answer a question.

Make sure your legal references are up-to-date and you are aware of recent changes. See here for my overview of recent relevant EPC changes and PCT changes. I have also included my comments about whether a question is likely or not - I have no insider knowledge, it is based on experience with previous exams.

I have limited the list to 2018 & 2019 - anything before 2018 will be included in your legal references.  There is usually one DI question (or an aspect of DII), and at least one Pre-exam Legal Question, directed to a "new" subject or a "recent" legal change. As each exam takes up to 2 years to make, these may not seem new or recent to you. For example, in DII 2019, G1/15 was tested for the first time.  The decision by the Enlarged Board in that case was taken on 29 Nov 16, and it was published in the OJ EPO in Sep 2017.

The EPO-PCT Guidelines were added to the official list of EQE texts about 2 years ago. Although most of the contents are found in other references, like the Euro-PCT Guide or the Applicants Guide IP, the Examination Committee prefers the EPO-PCT Guidelines to be cited. DI 2019 was the first exam where a reference (or an equivalent) was expected for full points.
 Subjects that could be asked include:
-- PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) - E-III, 1 - 3
-- PCT-Direct - A-IV, 1 and B-IV, 1.2

So, familiarise yourself with the changes from 2018 and 2019, and the contents of the EPO-PCT Guidelines. I also make an indexed version - it can be ordered as part of my EPO as a PCT Authority book.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Jetzt neu: indizierte EPÜ-Richtlinien des EPA – 1 Nov. 2019 auf Deutsch

Thanks to Dr. Marc Loschonsky for getting this ready - the 1 Nov 2019 version of our Indexed Guidelines is now available to order in German

Sorry it is late for EQE 2020 - it is a lot of work to get the first version ready. In future years, we expect it to be ready about the same time as the English version.

It is also suitable for daily life, and for those studying for EQE 2021 (Main Exam or Pre-Exam).

It is 3.2cm x 16x23cm pages, 982 pages, 930g, and printed on the thin 50-gr bible paper.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Suggested books & things to take to Main & Pre-Exam - EQE 2020

Preparation:
- Check the exam times and plan to arrive early
- Since EQE 2017, an additional 30 minutes has been given for papers A, B, C and D (REE OJ 2019 SE2 - page 41) to help candidates who do not have English, French or German as their mother language. The papers are designed to be made in the official REE duration (e.g. 5 hours for C and D) but an extra 30 minutes is given to make it at the exam (e.g. 5.5 hours for C and D).
- Read through the rules regarding the conduct of the exam (REE OJ 2019 SE2 - page 36-40). See the warning here about possible problems.
- See here what candidates said last year about the location where you are taking the exam
- Be well rested in the days before the exam - many D candidates sleep badly on Monday night
- Take a suitcase with wheels, and limit the books to ones you have used in the last 6 months of your preparation
- For the A & B papers, if you need more practice, do the Mock A (Examiners' Report) and Mock B (Examiners' Report) for additional practice. There is also a video explaining the philosophy behind the combined technology papers which were given for the first time at EQE 2017.
- From EQE 2020 onwards, no opposition form will be supplied with Paper C, and no form should be handed in with your answer. Elements which used to be explicitly required in the form to ensure admissibility (complying with A.99, A.100 and R.76 EPC) should be included in your answer on a sheet of EQE paper.
- For the D paper, the marks available for DII (used to be 60 marks) will be reduced from EQE 2020 onwards (epi information 4/18 - pages 25). It may be different each year - check before you start by looking on the front page of the exam. Expect either 50:50 or even 60 DI:40 DII.
- They are now more critical when awarding full marks for the legal citation (legal basis) in DI. See here for some rules of thumb for optimising marks for legal basis.
- If you need a little help on DII, this presentation provides a basic methodology and some explanation of what they are looking for
- After doing the papers of 2019, look at the Tutors' Report to help with interpreting the EQE Compendium (epi information 4/19 - pages 40-52)
- If necessary, look here for some tips for reducing anxiety at the exam
- Be prepared to do the exams with a relatively small (possible as small as 60cm x 90cm) space. Normally, you can place books you don't need under the table.
- Look through the EQE Study Guide for other tips

Updated: 23 Feb 2020 with link to EPC & PCT changes

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

EQE Paper D: optimise your marks for legal basis

Many candidates waste time perfecting and double-checking each legal basis. This is a poor strategy - a lot of marks are also available for correctly solving the legal problems, for explaining (arguing) how you have applied the law, and for the legal advice part. In many cases, an alternative will be accepted, even if it is a "lower" legal source.

It is much more efficient to understand the basic principles of what is required and what is typically accepted, and then be pragmatic. You should then note the best citations you find as you consult your notes and books when answering. If you think you are missing something, make a note and come back at the end if you have time left.

(1) Recognise and note expected citations: although different sources may be cited (and are always considered for marks), the markers are mainly looking for references to the documents listed in IPREE Rule 2 & 22(1) (latest version: OJEPO 2019, SE2 - see below for the syllabus provisions). Make sure you are familiar with the contents of these resources.

(2) Recognise and note the most important citations: hierarchically, Articles, Rules, & G-decisions are the most important, and the most likely to get marks. Whenever you notice one of these, ALWAYS note it next to the argument being made.

(3) Learn the most frequently required provisions by heart: if you can cite these without looking them up, you can quickly score marks. These are the most frequent subjects of the legal questions, and can be found in the D Examiner's Reports of the last 10 years. Additional tip: tab these provisions in your reference books as there is a good chance you will need them.

  • EPC: A.14, R.3, R.6, R.157(2) | A.54(2), A.54(3) | A.65 | A.76, R.36 | A.87(1), A.87(4) | A.99(1), A.100, R.76(2), R.84(2) | A.108 | A.114(1), A.114(2) | A.121, R.135 | A.122, R.136 | A.123(2) | A.133, R.151 | A.141, R.51(1) | R.40 | R.45 | R.70(1) | R.114 | R.116 | R.126(2) | R.131(4), R.134(1) | R.137(5) | R.139 | Rfees 2(1)
  • Euro-PCT: A.153(7) | R.159(1), R.160 | R.164
  • PC: A.4C
  • PCT: A.8(1), R.4.10(a) | A.11(1) | R.19 | R.54bis | R.80.2, R.80.5 | R.90 | R.90bis

(4) Note the sources actually used: your answer should be explaining to the marker how you get to your conclusions. So if you apply principles from any "lower" resource such as EPO Guidelines, Case Law, OJEPO etc, cite any relevant Article, Rules, BoA decisions, AND the source reference. 

(5) Note the legal principle that you are applying: in general, rules are required more often than Articles - this is because they implement the legal principles found in the Articles. "Empty Articles", such as A.80 EPC or A.120 EPC are not required for full marks.

(6) Stop citing when the number of citations matches the number of marks: as a general rule of thumb, a statement is required with a supporting legal basis citation for each mark. So an 8 mark question requires approx. 8 citations for full marks.

(7) Cite alternative sources and unexpected documents when relevant: if you have nothing better quickly available, cite it. The marker will consider it, and use discretion. For example, a Guideline reference summarising a BoA decision is usually accepted instead the decision number. Using an exact word or phrase from a legal provision or case law (such as "accompanying person") may also be accepted as proof of the correct legal basis.

(8) Be aware that many PCT resources are not expected: the only PCT Guideline expected is GL/PCT-EPO (added in 2017 to IPREE Rule 22(1)). EQE 2019 was the first D Paper where a citation was expected for full marks. Unfortunately, these EPO-PCT Guidelines are not sufficient on their own for preparation or answering at the Exam - it is not complete (it does not cover EP entry at all), and in many sections, it just refers to parts of other documents. You should still know this document in detail - it contains relevant information about EPO policies under PCT, and identifies further PCT-related subjects, such as PCT-Direct or PPH, which may be asked in the D Paper.

(9) ... but still use the other PCT resources to answer questions: and cite when relevant. Applicant's Guide AG-IP & AG-NP and Euro-PCT Guide (EPG) are much more useful for studying and answering at the Exam. But, when answering with these "alternative sources", cite any relevant Article, Rules, BoA decisions, as well as the source actually used to answer.

(10) leave a comment below with your tip #10

Click for the relevant REE legal provisions

Which version of the EPO and EPO-PCT Guidelines to use for EQE 2020?

The syllabus is defined in Regulation on EQE (REE) A.13 and IPREE R.2 and R.22 (latest: OJEPO 2019,SE2). R.22 specifies that legal texts valid on 31 Oct in the year before the exam are relevant. This cut-off was intended to simplify EQE preparation, as the new versions of the EPO Guidelines (Guidelines for Examination in the EPO) and the EPO-PCT Guidelines (Guidelines for Search & Examination at EPO as PCT Authority) only enter into force on 1 Nov each year. So the "older" versions, published 18 months before the EQE, are the official ones.
In practice, the choice is more complicated - for your daily work, you need to be familiar with the most up-to-date versions, and preparing for the Pre-Exam and Main Exam are done in consecutive years, meaning that you may have to consider at least three versions. The EPO Guidelines may also be relevant for any paper, not just the legal part.

Option 1: use "older" (official) versions
- the versions valid on 31 Oct 2019, published on 1 Nov 2018.
- this seems straightforward, but OJEPO publications and legal changes between 1 Nov 2018 and 31 Oct 2019 still need to be monitored.
- also look through the changes made in the 1 Nov 2019 "newer" versions, as most of these are based on changes known in early 2019
- this is the version expected by the Examination Committees when a EPO or EPO-PCT Guideline reference is given


Option 2: use "newer" versions
- the versions which will still be valid on 31 Oct 2020, published on 1 Nov 2019 (note that these will be the official versions for EQE 2021).
- OJEPO publications and legal changes between approx. Apr 2019 and 31 Oct 2019 still need to be monitored as not everything may have been amended in the Guidelines. But there is less chance of missing anything.
- this is less preferred by the Examination Committees, but candidates are not penalized for using a newer version (this was confirmed at the Tutor's Meeting in October 2019), but the version (year) should be indicated at least once for each paper.

Conclusion:
- both options can be equally successful. 95% of the Guidelines are unchanged, and if you know them inside out, you will be able to answer most EPC-related questions.
- if you mark up your Guidelines, it is probably makes sense to use option 1 for the Pre-Exam and option 2 (same version) for the Main Exam one year later.

Reference books:
I have Indexed versions available here, which are compact in size, and simplify and speed up finding things. The index also indicates major updates made in the last 3 years:
- Indexed EPO Guidelines - "older" version (1 Nov 2018 - EN) or "newer" version (1 Nov 2019 - EN/DE)
- EPO as PCT Authority - "older" version (1 Oct 2019) or "newer" version (1 Nov 2019)
--- this is a new reference book, which includes indexed versions of the EPO-PCT Guidelines and Euro-PCT Guide (EPG).