Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Advice on preparing for Paper D in about 160 hours

At this time of year, I often get asked about how best to prepare for Paper D. Ideally, you should have started much earlier, but just in case, here is the minimum you should have done before the exam.

The main differences with Pre-Exam are:
- there are more subjects they can ask about
- you have to decide based on the question which law to consider and which to apply (no possible answers are given)
- deal with DII (a very large, open question)

1) Learn the core of legal subjects, learn how the law fits around them, learn how to find things quickly in your legal book by doing the 150 selected questions from the DeltaPatents D Book (see page 9 of the Questions part). Do most of them fully, but do some of them quickly by concentrating on the most relevant part of the answer. Copy some of the answers as templates into your legal books  - [60 hours]

2) Sign up for the Daily D questions from the EPO Academy - 60 questions in total you can do in your lunch break (or in the bus/train), but concentrate for these just on the main part of the answer and legal basis - [20 hours]

3) Find out about D methodology (efficiently answering to get the most points in the time available) - ask someone else or get a book (see below) - [8 hours]

4) Learn how to answer DI questions:
- do the DI questions from the D papers of the last 4-5 years. Compare your answer to the official answer (the official answers concentrate on the most relevant parts of the law for answering that question) - [20 hours]

5) practice writing by hand on mock EQE paper

6) Study DII methodology
- Start with DII of 2013 - this is a good balanced DII. Cover the following in your answer:
a. Situation-as-is (where are we today, what will happen if you don't get involved)
(i) patentability of application/patent legal status, novelty & inventive step of all claims
(ii) exploitation - what can the client do to stop the competitor and how, what can the competitor do to stop the client
b.  Improvements in both patentability and exploitation
c. Come to conclusion about freedom to operate (e.g. cross-licence)

Don't go through every procedural detail in your answer - concentrate on things that help the client. Compare your answer to the official answers, but try not to focus on all the details. Look for the general parts you missed. Each sentence in the Possible Solution is 1 point. Look for patterns that repeat. Preferably do it with someone else and have them read your answer to see if they understand it.

7) Do the DII parts from the D papers of the last 4-years - [30 hours]

8) You also need to think about where you want to spend your time at the exam:
- track the time it takes you to do the papers. Aim for spending no more than 3 minutes per point.
- the exam is designed with 2 hrs for DI and 3 hrs for DII
- you don't have to do all the DI questions. You can score your > 45 points anywhere in any combination of DI + DII points
- On D, you start with 0 points, and get 1/2 point for everything that is relevant for the question
- Your DII is marked as a whole, so it does not matter where you write down a relevant comment in your answer
- Hand-in at least 1500 words for your DII answer
- Optimise your points for the things you know, and avoid things that take a lot of time to answer
A training course is the most efficient way to learn methodology because you are guided through the material, you can ask your own questions, and you don't need to put so much time into figuring out how the exam is structured, and what you need to hand-in.

But at this late stage, it is probably better to get a book than to try and find a course - whatever you learn, you still need to practice the methodology on real papers before the exam.

"Goal-oriented Methodologies" by Daniel Herrmann is quite short compared to other books, but I like that. It covers the basics for A, B, C & D and you can read it in a couple of hours. It is actually shorter than it looks because it includes methodologies and examples in both German & English. It is based on his approach when he passed recently. Unfortunately, the website is in German, but the book is really in English as well. It is also available at

"Tactics for D" by Cees Mulder & Nyske Blokhuis is also relatively quick to get through and to understand.
If you are doing more than one paper, you will start to run out of time. Concentrate on D - D takes the most effort, and you don't want to resit it - it is very difficult to motivate yourself to go through everything again. Resitting A, B or C is much less work.
Good luck!

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