Sunday, May 24, 2020

Combined AB papers & suggested papers for practice

I have been asked by a couple of people to go through the list again, so see below for the update of this post from Dec 2018. It has not changed much (removed A EM 2011), but I have added some general guidance, as well as a list of not-recommended papers.

With so few combined technology papers, you need to do some of the older papers to practice, including papers in the technology that you are least comfortable with. 

In general: 
  • Look for papers that are "C-like" - requiring a more general technical knowledge
  • Past papers relied on candidates knowing certain basic facts in that technology. Physics / chemistry / biology that you knew in school but have forgotten - e.g. chlorine is a halogen, thermoplastics can be softened by heat, moment = force x distance, chemical compounds can have several names. In the current papers, all those facts are provided, either by the client or in the prior art. For past papers, you may have to look these things up to determine genus/species relationships, differences (important for novelty), effects (important for inventive step). 
  • EM papers: can derive effect (function) from structure and vice-versa. A feature is usually used to distinguish from prior art - comparing drawings is fastest way to see this. Functional claims are often expected, often close to a "result to be achieved". Enablement issues are very rare. Skilled person can use some extrapolation => similar structures provide similar effects, similar effects imply similar structures. The result of a process can usually be predicted, so claiming of product-by-process is very rare. Skilled person can often fill in a lot of gaps - for example, claims are much broader than specific examples in description.
  • CH papers: effects are supported by experimental data. Ranges and range values are used as distinguishing features, but just a different value may not be enough (a diiferent effect associated with this value is evidence of novelty). Effect (function) is not derivable from structure. Structure is not derivable from effect (function). Skilled person cannot use extrapolation based on structure. Some very narrow extrapolation based on effects, but teachings are followed very exactly. Enablement is often an issue. The result of a process cannot be predicted, so claiming of product-by-process is frequent where the product cannot be claimed structurally. Skilled person cannot fill in gaps - claims find exact support in description. It was expected to turn the whole letter from the client (in A) into a part of the description (no longer required). Unity was often an issue (has not been tested in combined papers, but a simple case could be covered). Markush claims were expected (not to be expected in the combined papers)
  • Avoid past EM papers that are based around finding a claim that covers a lot of embodiments. Claim language was not given - you were expected to provide intermediate generalisations yourself - e.g. screw, nail, glue => generalise to "fixing means".

Monday, May 11, 2020

Your chance to help with EQE 2021

Every year, the epi asks for volunteers for the EQE committees - as expected they need more help for EQE 2021. New members are mainly needed to mark papers - after approx. 2 years, you may be asked to help draft papers. The Official notice and application form is here under Examination Committees. Some highlights:

  • EB expects more candidates than usual in 2021, and would therefore appreciate receiving a large number of applications to guarantee a fair marking of papers 
  • You can indicate your paper preference
  • For 2021-2022 term, applications need to be received by June 9, 2020
  • Membership of epi and successful completion of EQE is required
  • For marking, a minimum commitment of 120 hours per year, including a minimum of four days of meetings
  • Also expected to help with testing and checking of new papers, bench marking or acting as an EQE official, which might require further or different time commitments. These tasks are distributed fairly among members.
  • Volunteer, so no remuneration. But travel expenses are reimbursed by epi.
  • In particular for this year: those who can can mark papers in German or French
  • Appointment is for at least 2 years

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

EQE 2020 officially cancelled, focus on EQE 2021, e-EQE 2022

After much speculation, the EQE Supervisory Board has decided to officially cancel EQE 2020. It was not unexpected - "for the first time in xxxx years, yyyy has been cancelled" has become a frequent headline this year.
The decision is available here as well as a communication providing more details.

Some comments:
  • "composed of an equal number of representatives of the EPO and the epi" - stresses that it is a joint EPO/epi exam. That saves me having to comment on many blog comments :-)
  • "the nearly 3.000 people that participate and are involved in the organisation of the Exams" - based on last year's figures, approx. 900 Pre-Exam, 1700 Main Exam candidates, 400 organizers/invigilators.
  • "actively discussing solutions ... strike the right balance between the legitimate expectations of candidates for the 2020 exams and .... health and safety" - thanks to those involved for considering all the options. It is an extraordinarily complex issue to deal with in difficult times, as they also have to consider the future impact of any decisions.
  • "the EPO and the epi need to ensure adequate health and safety conditions" - at the moment, there is no agreement yet on what precaution are adequate, but this should develop in the next months as the lockdowns are eased.
  • "the EPO and the epi need to guarantee the same basic conditions for candidates from all EPO member states, i.e. that they can all travel to one of the exam venues" - this seems like a big challenge, but could be eased by having more local exam venues. 
  • "the EPO and the epi need to ... avoid jeopardizing the EQE 2021" -  yes, this is a higher priority, and will already require a huge effort.
  • ** to see comments above 200, scroll to last comment and click Load more ... **

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

EQE2020 in September (if possible)?

Glad to see that the epi just posted a general update including a note about the postponement, as well as a link to the letter from the epi President to the EPO.
It highlights the desire by the epi to have the EQE go ahead, as well as acknowledging many of the problems that would need to be solved.

"epi letter to the EPO regarding the EQE cancellation
You are no doubt aware that the March EQE session was cancelled, and that it is planned to organise a postponed session in September, if possible. In this regard, the Presidium has decided to send a letter to the President of the EPO, which is published here."

The purpose of the letter was to request the EPO's support so that every possible resource available in the EPO can be used to organise a postponed EQE 2020 - in particular, the finding of suitable locations at suitable dates, the registration of candidates, the invigilation, and above all the marking process. They note that the availability of additional marking capacity among epi members may be limited when the time line is shifted.

It also mentioned:
  • ... no firm plans can be made until it is sufficiently certain that the epidemic will be under control, and trusts that every possible option is being explored.
  • The ideal situation would be one where the postponed 2020 EQE is organised in such a way that the results are available by end October 2020, in time for the candidates to catch up with the normal timeline. Candidates who failed one or more papers of the main EQE could still register for the 2021 EQE and follow the special trainings for re-sitters. 
  • We trust that the Supervisory Board will take all necessary decisions to implement exceptions in order to make that happen. Exceptions one might consider encompass abbreviated registration periods for re-sitters. Another possible exception is to skip the pre-examination. In view of Article 11(7) REE, it would not be necessary to organise a pre-examination, but if one is organised, the candidates who passed the pre­-examination would still have time to register for the 2021 EQE and follow the usual trainings.
  • At the same time, the EQE 2021 should be prepared in parallel and should not be put at risk.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

EQE-disaster recovery plan

What a nightmare - as far as I know, the EQE has never been cancelled. For those who were ready to take the exam, it feels like the end of the world.
I saw a lot of negative comments about the EPO, but you shouldn't blame the messenger. The Boards are comprised equally of EPO and epi members, and they were working tirelessly until the last moment to find some way to let it go ahead.
Take some time off now: relax in the weekends, do other things, and try to think of positive things you can do. You can certainly take off the days that you were supposed be doing exams, and do some of the things that you postponed due to your intense study schedule.
Prepare your 4-6 week intensive schedule: if it is rescheduled, they should give you 4-6 weeks notice (a reasonable time to book flights/hotels). If you were ready for the exam in 2 weeks time, you can be ready again.
Decide on your low-level schedule: For some people, it may be a good idea to continue studying at some level:

  • Organise your legal materials a little better (a lot of the current legal reference books started life as someone's well-organised EQE notes). 
  • Use your legal knowledge more in your daily work (see if a colleague needs help with an office action or opposition, give a presentation to your office, check whether your office procedures meet "all due care", teach subjects to trainees, write a legal article). 
  • Regularly do papers, and legal questions, even ones you have already done
  • Regularly do A and DII - theses are the two papers that are the closest to real life, and directly benefit your practical skills. For exam preparation, you can never do enough of these papers. And for A, try some of the other technology papers as well.
  • See the great initiative here on LinkedIn for refresher workshops

Think about other improvements: ... and don't forget your physical/mental well-being

  • for example, read this LinkedIn post about meditation & exercise
  • discuss any issues and worries with other candidates, tutors, etc
  • be prepared not to attend any exams (or work) if you are sick or may be contagious

Prepare for three scenarios:
I have no insider information, but I know something about how the exam is organised. There is only one exam for each paper, so they cannot hold the same paper on different days or at different times. But they could try to arrange the papers in different weeks, for example, or at least organise papers with the most preparation for candidates = Pre-Exam & Paper D.
1) Rescheduling for May/June July/August
Earlier than that seems unlikely. A lot of the cancellations and closures are official reactions to increases in cases, but each country has a different philosophy. So the earliest would be about 4-6 weeks after there is a continuous decline in cases (earliest measurable in April). Registration deadlines for EQE 2021 may need to be postponed.
Updated (21/03/20): May/June seems unlikely now. Normally, having exams during the summer would be impossible to arrange, but these are not normal times.
Updated (1/4/20): September seems to be being considered - see separate post
2) Rescheduling for September/October
This seems to be most likely if they are to reschedule. But this may conflict with some national exams, so maybe you have to change the order of preparation. They may have to delay EQE 2021 as well to get everything to fit.
Update (1/4/20): at least Registration deadlines for EQE 2021 will need to be postponed.
3) No Exam in 2020, wait for EQE 2021
I hope not. But even for EQE 2021 to go ahead with some certainty, they will already need to consider a lot of changes and back-up plans. For example: more online sitting of exams, moving the EQE to May each year, having max. 50 people per room, using testing locations outside big cities (plenty of places in central Europe), change system to fewer exams to pass, offer Pre-Exam more frequently, shorter exams
Be prepared for more inconvenience in the future:
All international events, meetings, exams etc will have to have a plan for the future to reduce risk from any virus, not just Corona COVID-19, and have an emergency plan. For example: instructing people not to travel / attend if you are sick, having a policy for visibly sick people = refused access or removed or given a mask or moved to a separate room, temperature measurement, providing masks / soaps / handgels for more cleaning, disinfecting rooms, disinfecting answer papers, no handshaking (like in hospitals) etc.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Possible questions on "recent" legal changes - EQE 2020

The law being tested at EQE 2020 is theoretically the status on 31 Oct 2019. Unless specified otherwise, "today" on the exam is the actual day of the exam (16 or 17 Mar 2020), so the law of 31 Oct 2019 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 relevant EPC changes and 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.

I have limited the list to 2018 & 2019 - anything before 2018 will be included in your legal references.  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 DII 2019, G1/15 was tested for the first time.  The decision by the Enlarged Board in that case was taken on 29 Nov 16, and it was published in the OJ EPO in Sep 2017.

The EPO-PCT Guidelines were added to the official list of EQE texts about 2 years ago. Although most of the contents are found in other references, like the Euro-PCT Guide or the Applicants Guide IP, the Examination Committee prefers the EPO-PCT Guidelines to be cited. DI 2019 was the first exam where a reference (or an equivalent) was expected for full points.
 Subjects that could be asked include:
-- PPH (Patent Prosecution Highway) - E-III, 1 - 3
-- PCT-Direct - A-IV, 1 and B-IV, 1.2

So, familiarise yourself with the changes from 2018 and 2019, and the contents of the EPO-PCT Guidelines. I also make an indexed version - it can be ordered as part of my EPO as a PCT Authority book.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Jetzt neu: indizierte EPÜ-Richtlinien des EPA – 1 Nov. 2019 auf Deutsch

Thanks to Dr. Marc Loschonsky for getting this ready - the 1 Nov 2019 version of our Indexed Guidelines is now available to order in German

Sorry it is late for EQE 2020 - it is a lot of work to get the first version ready. In future years, we expect it to be ready about the same time as the English version.

It is also suitable for daily life, and for those studying for EQE 2021 (Main Exam or Pre-Exam).

It is 3.2cm x 16x23cm pages, 982 pages, 930g, and printed on the thin 50-gr bible paper.