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.
- 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.
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) or "newer" version (1 Nov 2019)
- 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).