Sunday, July 28, 2019

EQELIBRIUM camps - learning by doing EQE papers

A vital part of any exam preparation is to practice exams. At the EQE, you will need to make a thousand micro-decisions on each paper about where to start, what you need to do, in which order to do it, what to write, what not to write, things not to be forgotten and when to stop. You need to deal with all the details as you concentrate on the big picture. And you need to take into account your own strengths and weaknesses.
The EQELIBRIUM mock camps, founded by Łukasz Bogdan, provide a good environment for learning this - by solving papers in a group, you benefit from the ideas and insights of others. Just as important is the social aspect - you spend a few days in the Polish mountains with other candidates who have similar issues and struggles. In particular, non-native speakers and re-sitters benefit a lot from considering different points of view.
I have heard that the first camps were like an "EQE Airbnb", where candidates stayed at someone's house, spending the whole day doing papers and cooking meals together :-).
I am very happy and proud to take part in this initiative to build a knowledge-sharing community. The scheduled camps (at a hotel close to Wroclaw) for both Pre-Exam and Main Exam papers are:

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: using EPC.App for Paper D - EQE 2019

I was immediately enthusiastic about EPC.App as it supports different uses by different types of candidate. To answer legal questions efficiently, you need to be able to find details (like procedural acts, time limits & references) quickly and accurately. Traditionally, either you make your own reference book or you learn to use (& annotate) a book written by someone else.
EPC.App supports both approaches and everything in-between: a digital, cross-referenced version of the EPC is provided with extensive standard notes, mark-up and comments from the editors. The standard notes were used by them to pass their EQE's, and also include links to Articles & Rules, OJEPO's, case law & guidelines.
The main structure is based on the Articles, followed by the relevant Rules. As you study on-line, hyperlinks allow you to open the resources, to make summaries and to add your own annotations. Standard notes can be hidden, so you can create a reference only covering the issues that you have difficulty with. If you need more explanation, you can make it and add it yourself. And you can put annotations next to the Article and/or Rule that you think is most logical. Just before the exam, you export it as a pdf and print it. As it becomes your reference, you can find the details a lot quicker at the exam.
To try out the book, I used only the standard EPC editors' notes for the benchmarking of Paper D in 2019. See below for more details of the version I used, what I quickly found and what I did not find. PCT was not included in 2019 editions, but I am working with the editors to make PCT.App, which will be available for EQE 2020.

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!