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".
  • The EPO also provides Terminology manuals for Professional Represenatatives: these are very good to help you improve your English, French, German and use old A/B/C/D EQE papers from 2013 & 2014 as examples. There are even audio clips you can practice with.
Considerations for combined papers:
  • Exam. Committees are still very forgiving about the specific past practices that not everyone is used to - for example, EM candidates lost a lot of points in the past for not covering all embodiments with one claim - in most combined papers, they will accept two or more claims with a small loss of points. Two-part claim can be compensated by mentioning differences in the explanation. Max. 1 mark for reference numbers in each independent claim. 
  • Take claim language exactly from the paper. Follow instructions of client. Make sure you protect important parts of their business. 
  • For A, only an introduction to the description is required (do not use the whole letter). Max. 15 claims. Try to claim all categories - product/apparatus/process/use. Do not worry about a nice claim tree - claim fall-back positions (features with a further effect and/or embodiments that client mentions as important). Most of the marks are for NOVEL claims (60-70 marks for independent claims). 
  • For B, the proposed claims from the client is very close to the solution you want. But client is not a patent attorney, so proposal will have A.123(2) issues. Objections by examiner should generally be accepted. Most of the marks are for argumentation (70 marks for the explanation)
Do: combined papers
Time given: A - 4 hrs to make a 3½ hr paper / B - 3½ hrs to make a 3 hr paper
(extra 30 minutes given to all candidates to help non-native speakers)
A 2019, 2018, A 2017, A Mock
B 2019, 2018, B 2017, B Mock
Note that the A & B Mock did not go through the full preparation process, so they are not perfect. And the Examiner's Report is not as thorough as you would normally have. But they are still very valuable practice material.

Do: after introduction of Pre-Exam
Time given: A - 3½ hrs / B - 3 hrs
(no extra time given for non-native speakers, B paper reduced by 30 mins by providing client's proposed claims which point to the answer) 
A CH 2015 
A EM 2014, 2013
B CH 2015
B EM 2016, 2015, 2013

Do: before introduction of Pre-Exam
Time given: A - 3½ hrs / B - 4 hrs
(no extra time given for non-native speakers)
A CH 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004 
A EM 2000
B CH 2012, 2010, 2009, 2003
B EM 2012, 2010, 2007

Don't do: too chemical or too electro-mechanical
A CH 2002, 2007, 2016
A EM 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016
B CH 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013
B EM 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011


  1. This is absolutely fantastic. Although slightly early to start papers, it gives us something to practice on. Thanks Pete.

  2. Hi Pete - I will be taking pre-EQE next year and I have a question which I hope you or anyone else can help me answer.

    If you get an invitation to file missing parts within 2 months from the EPO R56(1) - do you add on 10 days + 2 months from date of invitation.