Thursday, February 28, 2019

EQE 2019 - Paper C

I sat the paper under exam conditions in Munich as a bench marker to give the examination committees some materials for their marking discussion. If you want to try the paper yourself, here are scanned copies in English, French & German.

This paper was much more manageable than last year - it was possible to do some attacks during the reading, and once you had read the documents, it was clear where a lot of the pieces should approximately go. It was a lot of work to finish -  I had to cut my inventive step attacks and explanation down to the key points only. I heard from a couple of people that it was impossible to finish, but they had the feeling that they had done enough to pass (assuming they were on the right track).

The last day of the EQE is hard going, with a tired brain and tired hands from writing. I got up a little late, so I didn't have time to iron my shirt. I got to the exam on time, annoyed that I would have to sit there the whole day in my wrinkled shirt. And then I opened the exam to read all about irons and steam irons 😄. I wonder if it is based on a Philips Electronics case - there was an address in The Netherlands, and Eindhoven was mentioned where I am based.

See below for more comments and possibly some spoilers

EQE 2019 - Paper B

I sat the paper under exam conditions in Munich as a bench marker to give the examination committees some materials for their marking discussion. If you want to try the paper yourself, here are scanned copies in English, French & German.

Again a mix of mechanical, physical and chemical aspects. Very simple technology - solar cookers. In structure, this felt to me like a chemical paper - I managed to sort the pieces out, but I was not sure exactly what direction to take. Normally, in an EQE paper, most of the issues are clear enough decide using an 80/20 weighting, but here I had several 50:50 issues. Also with the support for the main amendment I took. I also struggled with inventive step. The reactions from others was a little mixed - they were unsure about their answer.

I may not be the best person to judge - I always have problems with paper B😲. I only passed it on my 2nd attempt at the EQE, and for a similar paper as a Dutch patent attorney, I had to take it 3 times.

See below for more comments and possibly some spoilers

EQE 2019 - Paper A

I sat the paper under exam conditions in Munich as a bench marker to give the examination committees some materials for their marking discussion. If you want to try the paper yourself, here are scanned copies in English, French & German.

The invention, a cell culture container (such as a multi-well plate) is something you could get in real-life to protect: the mechanical aspects need to be claimed, taking into account the chemical and biological aspects. This is a positive aspect of the current combined technologies format (this is the third year) - they prepares candidates who are specialised but have a broad understanding of the main issues when patenting other technical areas.
This is a nice mechanical paper for chemists to practice. The independent device claim emerges very quickly, but there are a lot of refinements for each feature to consider claiming. The mechanical paper issue of getting more than one embodiment under a single claim is included, but the flow of the information is steady and manageable. Very consistent wording used. The mechanical terminology (and understanding) is not difficult. There is a lot of work to do, but the paper does a good job of guiding you to your answer. Other people I talked to had similar comments, and the feeling was generally good.

See below for more details and possibly some spoilers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

EQE 2019 - Paper D

I sat the paper under exam conditions in Munich as a bench marker to give the examination committees some materials for their marking discussion. If you want to try the paper yourself, here are scanned copies in English, French & German.

I thought it was a very good D paper - the DII had a classical feel with a limited number of issues to deal with, but still a lot of options to think through and to advise about. The technology was very simple to understand, and there were limited dates to fit in your timeline. I may have missed something obvious😉, but I thought the DII was very well constructed. No loose threads or time-killing legal issues - it fits together like some of the older papers. A lot of work to get through, but possible to get  the main parts within the time.
The DI questions had a good mix of familiar legal issues and new ones (new to the exam). Both the DI and DII had some parts that you could spend a lot of time on, but time management is a key skill on all the papers. You need to sometimes to force yourself to stop what you are doing and to move on, even if you feel like you have more to write. A noticeable amount of PCT, but most of the legal issues have either been on the exam before, or are relatively well-documented.

Most of the people I chatted to afterwards were very happy with this paper. Only the time - some overran in DI and some overran in DII. I still had quite a few things I could have written in some parts, but I had to skip them to get further in the paper.

See below for more details and possibly some spoilers.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Possible questions on "recent" legal changes - EQE 2019

The law being tested at EQE 2019 is theoretically the status on 31 Oct 2018 in the year before the exam. Unless specified otherwise, "today" on the exam is the actual day of the exam (25th - 28th Feb 2019), so the law of 31 Oct 2018 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 releant EPC changes and an overview of recent relevant 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.

Changes in 2016 are also included as 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 DI 2018, G3/14 was asked for the first time.  The decision by the Enlarged Board in that case was taken on 25 Mar 15, and it was published in the OJ EPO in November 2015.

They also added the EPO PCT Guidelines to the official list of EQE texts  about 2 years ago, so some topics fom here could also be expected. Most of the contents are found in other references, like the Euro-PCT Guide, the standard EPO Guidelines or in OJ EPO notices. Two subjects that are explained here in more detail include:
-- PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) - E-III, 1 - 3 (See here for a copy of the chapter & a relevant OJ EPO)
-- PCT-Direct - A-IV, 1 and B-IV, 1.2 (See here for a copy of the chapters & a relevant OJ EPO)

So, familiarise yourself with the changes from 2016 and early 2017 as well.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Suggested books & things to take to Main & Pre-Exam - EQE 2019

Note: updated 11 Feb 2019 2110 with new (complete)overviews of EPC & PCT changes

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 2017 SE2 - page 36-40). See the warning here about possible problems.
- See here what candidates from last year said 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
- If you need a little help on DII, this presentation provides a basic methodology and some explanation of what they are looking for
- For the D paper, the marks available for DII (used to be 60 marks) may be reduced from EQE 2020 onwards (epi information 4/18 - pages 25). For EQE 2019, it will be unchanged (60 marks), but they are becoming more critical when awarding full marks for the legal citation (legal basis) in DI.
- After doing the papers of 2018, look at the Tutors' Report to help with interpreting the EQE Compendium (epi information 4/18 - pages 26-33)
- For the A & B papers, don't forget to 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.
- 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

Instructions to Candidates - EQE 2019

The EPO just published the up-to-date version of the Instructions to Candidates, including the restrictions on scissors, and the fact that the announcement before the end of time for the Pre-Exam will be 10 minutes so that you have time to fill out the answer sheet. For the Main Exam papers, it is 5 minutes, so you have time to put the answer pages in order and number them.

  • Don't be tempted to keep writing when they announce the end of the exam. If they come to collect your paper and you are still writing, they will not collect it. Even numbering of pages is not acceptable.
  • Make a note of the number of pages you hand-in for each Main Exam. They will send you a copy of your answers (unmarked) within a couple of weeks - check then that all the pages you handed in have been copied and are complete.
  • If you have use cut and paste for part of your answer, make sure the pieces are well stuck, and there is not excess glue which will cause pages of your answer to get stuck together. When you receive a copy of your answers,check that everything has been scanned properly.
  • Take an A4 envelope with you to hand-in your phone - see this earlier post.
Good luck!