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).

PCT Refs for EQE 2020 - Part I and II

Every year, on 31 Oct, WIPO produces a printable version of the complete Applicants Guide, including all annexes, specifically for the Pre- and Main Exams. The current version can be found here. But it is 2030 pages and much of it will never be required at the exam.

I have produced this abbreviated & improved version to lighten the load and to save a few trees. Using Regulations, past papers and comments from Examination Committees, I have limited it to adequately cover what you may need. In addition, I have added many useful overviews from the WIPO& EPO websites and OJEPO's which can speed up answering questions during the exam.

My book is available in two parts, and reflects the status on 31 Oct:
If ordered on paper, each must each be added to your basket separately.
- Part I - References 160mm x 230mm x 12mm - 375g - 380 pages
- Part II - Annexes 160mm x 230mm x 18mm - 565g - 580 pages
UPDATE 03 Jan 20: A4 versions can also be downloaded free of charge from the same page if you wish to print them yourself.

Part I: References
- Useful overviews from WIPO website
- PCT/PC/WTO Treaty memberships
- Overviews of fees
- Latest versions (11 July 2019) of AG-IP and AG-NP, with my Detailed Table of Contents
- New: FAQ's on Contingency Upload Service, A.19 & A.34 amendments, R.49.6 Reinstatement, Third-Party Observations
Part II: Annexes
- Annex B, C, D, SISA, and E info for selected international Authorities
- National Chapters for selected DO/EO's

National Law & Validation for EQE 2020

For the D paper, it is important to have up-to-date details from the National Law tables, particularly if there is a DI question on the translation requirements after grant, for example.

Unfortunately, the printed version of the National Law book is no longer available from the EPO. The latest version from Oct 2019 (360 pages) is here and can be printed on A4 paper yourself. But, not everyone likes the horizontal tables, and the small font makes it difficult to read if printed on A5 paper.

I have produced an up-to-date version using the latest info from the EPO website. Tables I and VIII are irrelevant for the EQE, so leaving them out saves 150 pages. I have added an index, page numbers and included the validation overviews published in the OJEPO for Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia and Cambodia.
New this year: the page size is 10% bigger to improve readability; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MK) is now North Macedonia (MK); and mention is made of Georgia (GE) signing a validation agreement on 31-10-19, but it is not yet in force.

My book is 380 pages, 160 x 230mm x 12mm, 375g, printed on thin (50g paper) double-sided paper. The link is on my patent firm's website.

Most of the contents are sourced from EPO websites and Official Journal, and no copyright is claimed for these parts.

Good luck at the EQE,
Pete Pollard