Thursday, October 14, 2021

1 Sep 2021 updates: PCT-App and Complete PCT Applicants Guide

https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/pct_contracting_states.html
In most years, official PCT documents are updated in July/August. However, this year, the WIPO has confirmed that few documents will be changed in 2021. There are no amendments to the PCT Regulations coming into force on 1 July 2021. 

Expected: 

  • possibly some changes to the PCT AIs and Forms later this year. 
  • 1 July 2022: The new WIPO Standard ST.26 for sequence listings enters into force, together with the many related amendments to the forms and documents.

So, on 1 July 2021, the following texts and references are (still) in force:

From WIPO:
  • PCT Treaty (Articles): 03 Oct 01
  • PCT Regulations (Rules): 01 Jul 20
  • AG-IP (Introduction to International Phase): 01 Jul 20
  • AG-NP (Introduction to National Phase): 6 Aug 20
  • AI (Administrative Instructions) Part 1 - 8 and Annexes B to G: 1 Jul 20
  • AI Annex A (Forms - RO / ISA / SISA / IB / IPEA): 1 Jul 20
  • AI Annex F (Electronic filing standard) Main Body & Appendices II - IV: 1 Jul 10
  • AI Annex F (Electronic filing standard) Appendix I: 1 Jul 21
  • RO-GL (RO Guidelines): 1 Jul 20
  • ISPE-GL (International Search & Preliminary Exam. Guidelines): 1 Jul 21
    • Added: ISA/IPEA may limit non-unity reasoning to minimum reasoning 10.04A 
    • Added: Examples of use of the minimum reasoning 10.59E – 10.59J
    • Note that ISPE GL's have many useful non-unity examples in Chapter 10
    • A welcome addition to 15.09, because applicants make major critical decisions based on international reports: In order to provide applicants and third parties with high levels of predictability for the potential outcomes of future national or regional prosecution, examiners should endeavor to prepare high quality international search reports and written opinions ... so that they can confidently be used by designated and elected Offices
  • PCT Fee Tables: 1 Sep 21
  • 75% reduction of PCT fees due to the EPO: 1 Jul 21
From EPO:
  • EPG (Euro-PCT Guide: PCT Procedure at EPO): 1 Jan 21
  • Fees for international applications: 1 Jan 21
  • EPO PCT-GL (Search & Examination at EPO as PCT Authority): Mar 2021

Data for specific States found in the Applicant Guide is continuously updated on the WIPO website, so always double check before relying on any state-specific info in real-life cases'

Although, there are few official changes, we have just completed many important updates

fireballpatents.com/study-materials/complete-pct-ag
Complete PCT Applicant's Guide (1 Sep 2021)fireballpatents.com/study-materials/complete-pct-ag:

  • Many references from 2020 are still valid, so these have not been updated. 
  • The PCT states overviews have been combined into one main overview, including reservations and incompatibilities valid on 1 Sep 21
  • The PCT fees and Applicant/Office forms overview, valid on 1 Sep 21, have been included
  • The ISPE-GL (International Search & Preliminary Exam. Guidelines) has been updated to the 1 July 21 version
  • Requirements for Biological Deposits (Annex L) have been added 
  • Our legal citation index is included for AG-NP.

www.pctapp.net/en
PCT.App (1 Sep 2021) - www.pctapp.net/en:

1. Integration of key Paris Convention articles.
Paris Convention articles are now available in the database in German and English to be annotated, incorporated and linked. Only the the most important articles for the PCT, including Article 4 PC (priority), have been included in the appropriate parts of PCT.App, annotated and cross-referenced with the rest of the PCT.

2. All comments and annotations referencing a State with a status date have correspondingly been checked and, where necessary, updated to legal status of 1 Sep 2021.

3. Many parts include comment boxes with a reference overview of other relevant parts. These have been updated to include new internal hyperlinks, so that they can be used online for quick navigation between parts just by clicking.

4. Where possible, provisions are referenced only in the most relevant sections. In some cases, comment boxes are used instead of including the full provisions. These include any additional comments and internal hyperlinks to the more relevant sections.

5. To allow finding answers more quickly, a convenient full-text search has been integrated into the online app and can now be accessed under the menu items "Navigation">"Search".

For more details on the PCT.App updates, click on READ MORE.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Indexed EPO-EPC Guidelines (1 Mar 21) now available to order

The EPO-EPC Guidelines for Examination (www.epo.org) covers EPO procedures during filing, search, examination, grant & opposition of EPC applications filed at EPO. Entry of PCT applications into the EP phase is also briefly covered.

This Indexed Version includes the complete official GL/EPO (EPO/EPC Guidelines), which are considered essential for exam candidates, and for professionals dealing with European patent applications in their daily life.

This version is valid from 1 Mar 2021 to 28 Feb 2022. It is the official version for EQE 2022 Main Exam & Pre-Exam. See this post for comments on which legal texts to use.

Note that answers at the EQE based on EPO-EPC Guidelines should be supported by EPC Articles, Rules, GL/EPO Guidelines (IPREE R.22) citations.

Our Indexed Version improves on the official version by:
  • grouping the index entries at the front and abbreviating entries to allow quick scanning
  • using page numbers to speed up getting to the correct page
  • indicating sections with significant changes in the last 3 years
  • including the complete official sources, and retaining the original paragraph structure and the underlining of the legal citations
  • modifying the contents to fully use the page size, giving better overviews of paragraphs
New this year is the A4-format (210 x 297mm) created by Ignacio Lobato, which reduces the page count from 990 pages to 488. We now offer two versions, both with black and white contents:
1) πŸ›’Portable Edition - 16mm thick, using thinner 50gr "bible paper" to reduce the thickness to 26mm and the weight to 800gr.
2) πŸ›’Study Edition - using thicker 80gr paper, which is more suitable for intensive tabbing, annotating and highlighting. It is 26mm thick and weighs 1250 gr.

For more details, including the order links, and sample pages, see: fireballpatents.com/study-materials

EQE 2022 - which legal texts to use?

 

There are no details yet on which digital references will be allowed or available during the exam. So, you may still need to print your references just before the exam.

During EQE 2021, External References were available for digital reading and searching, but were limited to the EPO website only. These were the original versions of the references, and no annotation or highlighting was possible. Copy/paste was available from the
references. No details yet on what will be available in 2022.

Answers for the Main and Pre-Exam will be accepted based on legal texts valid on 31 Oct 2021 - REE (OJ SE2, 2019) Art. 13(1)(c), Rule 2 (this is still the old REE - it is likely to be updated this year. There was already an updated Instructions to Candidates - OJ 2021, A13).

I will be updating all my EQE-specific study materials to provide versions valid on 31 Oct 2021. Hopefully, many of the references will be made available digitally during the exam, so that this set can be minimised.  

The EPO-EPC and EPO-PCT Guidelines have moved to a new revision cycle, namely 1 March each year. If the EPO website is available again during the exams as an External Reference, the 1 Mar 2022 versions will be the versions in force and available digitally. The 1 Mar 2021 versions will only be
available on-line in the EPO-EPC Guidelines Archive and EPO-PCT Guidelines Archive as PDF's.

During EQE 2021, the exam committees were pragmatic and flexible about what they would accept to support an answer - either the official versions (valid on 31 Oct before the exam), or newer versions available digitally through External References.

General recommended:
  • For EQE 20xx, use the legal texts and documents valid on 31 Oct 20xx-1
  • As a practicing (trainee) attorney, you should always be aware of the most up-to-date materials. If you use versions made available after 31 Oct 20xx-1 to answer questions, you will not be penalised. 
  • But be pragmatic and don't just print out a lot of books or buy new ones. It is better to update older versions yourself by going through the changes in detail. The EPO provides some track changes versions and the WIPO usually uses change bars.
  • Only transfer a lot of notes and annotations to a new version if you are using very old materials.
  • If you do not use an "official version" during the exam, make a note once in each EQE exam of the Guidelines version you use. It is not required, but it makes it easier for the marker.
Summary for Main and Pre-Exam EQE 2022: 
  • They will officially accept answers based on legal texts & documents in force on 31 Oct 2021
  • They will also accept answers based on legal texts & documents in force after 31 Oct 2021 (including any updated EPO & EPO-PCT Guidelines version 1 Mar 22)
  • Recommended for EQE 2022:
    • look through the most important EPO & EPO-PCT Guidelines changes in Feb 2022 - the EPO usually provides a track changes version
    • many of these changes will be based on Case Law, OJ EPO notices and practice changes that were already known in 2021, but missed the update one year earlier. 
    • update the 1 Mar 2021 versions of the Guidelines yourself

CLICK BELOW for the background and explanations: 

EQE 2022 - preparation and top bugs that need to be fixed

Update 21 Jun 21: I have also made some of these points in epi Information 02/21
EQE 2022 has been announced (OJ 2021, A44), and it has been confirmed that the EQE will be online, it may be taken at any suitable location, and WISEflow will be used again. The exams will take place over two weeks: 
  • Tu 08 Mar 22 - D Exam / Th 10 Mar - A Exam
  • Tu 15 Mar 22 - B Exam / Th 17 Mar - C Exam / Fri 18 Mar - Pre-Exam
No details yet on which other software will be used or whether changes will be made in the room and workspace restrictions. But based on EQE 2021, taking an exam is likely to require: 
  • an exam browser, such as LockDown Browser
  • continuous AI-assisted camera and sound invigilation, so you must be visible in the webcam field of view for long periods
  • online invigilation, such as Zendesk

So, EQE 2022 candidates can already plan ahead:

  • Keep an eye on the EPO’s EQE pages for updated details: EPO e-EQE page, EQE Notices & Downloads, EQE FAQ's
    • don't read through all the details from EQE 2021 - much of the info was provisional, a lot is repeated, and it is likely to change or be consolidated
  • At least one mock should be expected in Jan / Feb. Reserve the time and take part - you must use these opportunities to test your system, and to check for individual problems with your hardware/ software
  • Think digital for taking the exam: 
    • a key skill is now typing speed. Take an online typing course and get a comfortable keyboard / mouse
    • become less dependent on paper. Get comfortable reading work documents electronically, especially PDF.
  • Look for resources that support working digitally
    • websites that allow questions to be viewed and answered digitally, such as Practice EQE
    • EPC and PCT books which are digital – a few, like EPC.App and PCT.App can even be annotated digitally and printed. 
  • But be prepared to have your references availableon paper. During EQE 2021, access was provided to the electronic resources on the EPO website only, but it is not yet clear what will be available in 2022.

There were many issues in 2021 with the new exam platform. These are my top bugs that must be fixed for EQE 2022:

  • Digital highlighting of exam pages
    • this was not available at all for exam pages. Some highlighting was possible for the own answer.
    • it is essential when reading off a screen to be able to keep your place, to note things you have used and/or things you need to use
    • candidates should not be wasting their time copying large parts of the exam to their answer just to apply highlighting
  • Copy/paste into the answer without losing formatting
    • copy/paste was possible, but some or all formatting was often lost,
    • this was especially poor with Apple computers
    • candidates should not be wasting their time reformat excerpts
  • Side-by-side previewing of exam pages, allowing correct copy/paste and highlighting
    • copy/paste was only available between different tabs
    • candidates should be able to answer in the same way that they are used to when working digitally
  • Too-limited digital External References during the exam
    • the EPO website was available, with searching
    • this must be extended to include WIPO to avoid every candidate printing out 2000 pages of the PCT Applicant’s Guide
  • Zendesk automatically logging out during the exam
    • candidates had to keep checking every 20 mins and logging back in
    • this should not be necessary.
  • Camera and microphone, once tested, should function throughout the exam
    • many candidates were interrupted by Zendesk during the exam because LockDown Browser had disabled their webcam. the camera tested during startup of LockDown Browser should not be disabled.
    • there should be an automatic warning if the camera and/or microphone is unexpectedly not working

Other improvements needed for EQE 2022:

  • lnclude an optional "digital exam desktop"
    • so that candidates can prepare PDF's and upload them for use during the exam
    • some EPC/PCT books are already digital, and many recommended EPO / WIPO references are only available digitally 
    • allow searchable text of such PDF's, as you have in real-life, for all digital references. Being able to search broadly does not help as much as you think. Only with knowledge can you search quickly and precisely to pick out what you need.
  • Find a more effective way of communicating with candidates than e-mail
    • where follow-up questions can be posted. For example, a forum, Twitter, or Telegram chat groups 
    • be more open about how the exams will be adapted to the platform
  • Provide a technical helpdesk and forum 
    • to solve network and access problems well before the exam
    • especially for company networks and laptops, where candidates will not have Administrator rights.
    • run an early beta test using a large number of external candidates and/or tutors to iron out the bugs
  • Don't make it harder than it needs to be for those with En/Fr/Ge as a 2nd language. 
    • Since 2017, an extra 30 mins was added to each Main Exam so that mainly non-native speakers would have more time. But this is no longer enforced, and it is clear from the 2021 B and C Exams that this time has just been absorbed by more material. 
    • So, have a non-native review team for each exam from the countries who have a good language level, but not the highest. Sorry - no Dutch, Swedish or Danish etc. doing the English :-). They also need to test whether the exams can be made in time.
  • For exams that are split, like the C Exam, subject-matter must be properly separated between parts
    • The length of the current exams can be reduced by removing overlap and repetition. For example: 
      • A Exam: reduce subject-matter, focus mainly on independent claims, and provide less prior art.
      • B Exam is not realistic with client giving you claims. Go back to the old format, reduce subject-matter, only include a few claims, and provide less prior art.
      • C Exam has much repetition in attacks. Include fewer claims, and provide a lot fewer documents.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

epi online conference - Modernising the EQE - 21 June

8 Jun 21: Forum link added. The epi recently published their discussion paper on proposed changes to the EQE from 2024. See separate post for my comments. It is also possible to post comments on epi -learning on-line forum (open to all).

On 21 June 1300-1600, epi is holding an online conference. We want a broad perspective from all EPC states, so please join and make your opinion heard. Non epi members are also invited to register and participate.

Conference on Modernising the EQE to better test “fitness-to-practise”

21.06.2021

Starts: 21.06.2021   13.00hrs
Ends: 21.06.2021   16.00hrs

Venue

Online conference


Description

Moving to a digital testing environment necessitates adaptation of the EQE but also presents an opportunity to review whether the EQE is testing the skills and knowledge required by the European patent attorney of today. The aim of the conference is to explore how to modernise the EQE to better test whether a candidate is ready to practise as an EPA and to help candidates develop the skills and knowledge needed to practise. During the conference, the following topics will be explored: 

  • the motivation for change 
  • the essential skills and knowledge of an EPA, 
  • modernising the structure and timeline of the examination, and 
  • any impact on national examinations and other national considerations. 


Target group

The conference is aimed at delegates who are involved in training EPAs, including training providers, tutors, mentors and employers as well as those who have an interest in maintaining a high standard of training, including professional organisations and patent offices.


Technical requirements

In order to attend the online conference participants need a computer with an internet browser and a high-speed broadband internet connection. For the conference, epi uses Zoom. Security settings on local Firewalls need to be checked. 

To access to the conference epi sends out a link shortly before the conference.


Registration

Please note that despite the conference participation being free of charge, the section on billing information in the registration form is mandatory. Unfortunately it is not possible for us to remove that section at the moment.


Working language

English


Contact

For further information, please contact Jacqueline  Kalbe: education@patentepi.org


Minimum number of participants

20*
*If the minimum number of participants was not reached by the registration deadline, the seminar will be cancelled. In this case the epi will inform you immediately.


Registration deadline

Registration is open until 14.06.2021. The order of receipt by epi will determine the attendance in case of over-subscription.

(The links below may not work. Alternatively click on link at the bottom of the page or try this one).


 Registration epi member/student

Sunday, April 18, 2021

e-EQE – epi discussion paper - comments

Update 21 Jun 21: I have also made some of these points in epi Information 02/21
8 Jun 21: forum link added.
The epi recently published their discussion paper on proposed changes to the EQE from 2024. See below for some comments, following on from my earlier comments on the future of the EQE.  It is also possible to discuss using the epi-learning forum (open to all).

My conclusions: 
  • Some good ideas, like allowing an earlier start of learning, but I miss any proposals to improve the organisation. 
  • I miss a proposal for permanent education - the EQE tests whether a small number of representatives are fit to practice at that moment. 
  • I hear more and more candidates choosing to follow a law degree instead of the EQE because of the unpredictability of passing. Having everything modular will help prevent this getting larger.
    • But we also need a clear syllabus for each part, transparent marking and a proper way to address the concerns of the average non-native speakers.
  • Infringement has to be added - it is an essential part of being a patent attorney.
My comments:

1. Is the current EQE adequately testing the “fit to practice” criterion? - p.1
  • Some Exam Papers are ... jigsaw puzzles ... rather than testing real skills ...
    • It is not a problem if questions are designed to have one answer - the legal questions are set up like this. Having small puzzles that fit together, like the current Pre-Exam - claim analysis and D2 does mean that you can feel when you are on the right path.
    • However, the general advice to pass currently is to not think too much and give the answer in the Guidelines because alternatives are almost never accepted, even if properly argued. Perhaps that way that the questions are structured needs to be clarified - instead of asking, is it novel/inventive/extension etc, you can ask whether the EPO will object (the Guidelines answer) - candidates should know what will happen during proceedings.
    • The biggest current "puzzle" is the C exam - it is completely out of control (not just this year). There are too many different documents and the pieces you need are not always in the most likely places. Way too long, too many documents, with a ridiculous amount of detail require for argumentation. 
    • The B exam is now going the same way. 
  • All papers should start with 0 marks, and award marks for correct parts. A and B suffer the most because they are negatively marked - you start with 100 marks, but lose marks for each deviation from the expected answer. The problem is that by misreading or misunderstanding a couple of things, you end up running out of materials to use. There is a randomness to passing - if you are on the same wavelength, you pass. If not, you fail. But if you retake it a year later, then you can pass without preparing any differently.
  • Marking of the practical papers should always consider whether a mistake would be correctable in real-life 
      • Why should you be afraid for A of submitting a non-novel claim or non-inventive claim? As the argumentation supplied tends to be brief for A (as it reflects the brief argumentation typically included in a patent application), you should not lose so many marks if a dependent claim is what they wanted. There should be no marks lost for extending a feature beyond the scope of the client's letter, for example.
      • For B, where argumentation is required, the reasoning can be judged better for possibly having a non-novel or non-inventive claim. There should be no marks lost for not abandoning scope based on an instruction by the client if you think it is patentable (and argue this). 
      • Why is matching EVERY feature and correctly defining closest prior art in C such an issue? For an opposition, the main thing is to attack all the claims, get all the documents in, and argue the non-trivial aspects of the feature matching and inventive step. You would not write an opposition like that.
  • Methodology courses - p.1, p.2
    • I may be a little biased ;-), but I am not sure why it is a goal to get rid of these. Most of the methodology courses are based on reverse engineering and save candidates a lot of time that they can use for actually practicing papers. I don't think these will disappear, even with a more modular exam and shorter pieces. 
    • These are currently "needed" because the exams are much too long (so very difficult to do in the time available, especially for non-native speakers), there is no official info about what is to be tested, how the papers should be made, or how they should be marked. The Examiners' Reports are not easy to read and deliberately leave out a lot of details on alternatives that were accepted, or the exact marking. Even if candidates file an appeal, they will never see the details of their marking to see where they lost marks. 
    • If there are tricks that is being taught to pass with little preparation, obviously this should be prevented. But I don't consider pointing out where marks are awarded and how to score those marks as a trick - all marks count equally to the scoring, and candidates should always focus on their strengths and understand what is required. I don't see weak candidates passing just through methodology - more that there are a lot of well-prepared candidates who fail because they do not know how to show their working properly within the time available. Hardly anyone ever gets about 80 marks for certain exams.
    • I agree that it should not be necessary to follow such a course to pass. The committees and boards can influence this already => a clear syllabus that they stick to, openness about the marking and what is expected, using similar formats and styles each year, announcing new subjects to be tested or changes to the marking in advance, publishing several alternatives that were accepted, allowed appealing candidates to see exactly where they lost marks etc.
  • Practical training
    • This varies greatly, depending on where you work and the opportunities available - there should be more guidance on what you should be doing and some help with this. 
    • I agree that that it is better to prepare earlier and not make exam participation dependent on a fixed number of years - for example, a lack of drafting and amendment experience can be compensated by doing more old exams to learn the skills needed. You need the knowledge as early as possible.
  • Suggestion - allow qualified attorneys, lawyers, employees, formalities officers etc. to also sit the modules (without overwriting their scores) to allow them to stay up to date in a structured way. This could already be done for the Pre-Exam (no consequence - they just get marks separately for legal and claim analysis).
CLICK BELOW FOR MORE COMMENTS

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Answering D1 Exam 2021 with EPC.App & PCT.App

While doing the D Exam as an official benchmarker, I kept track of how I used the EPC.App and PCT.App references to answer questions. I did this to check usability and completeness. Below are notes on how and where I found the main legal issues, so there are spoilers. The D Exam can be downloaded from the EPO Compendium. See also an earlier post with more about D Exam technical issues
I have not included my answers - these were made under exact exam conditions, so there are plenty of mistakes. I have concentrated on D1 use as you need to find things quickly. My main conclusions:
  • Both books contained the legal info needed, and allowed it to be found quickly. Exception was Situation B of Q.5 - although this is unlikely to be asked again for many years, it can be important for real life. R.26.3ter is included in PCT.App, but we need to cross-reference that in other sections.
  • The fastest way to search in EPC.App and PCT.App is to use the Detailed Contents. Based on your knowledge and the point in the procedure, you should be able to quickly see the most relevant provisions.
  • The fastest way to answer PCT questions is to look for an overview of the procedure at the beginning of many sections.
  • It is sometimes quicker to search directly in the Guidelines / Applicants Guides as not everything can be neatly sorted under the structure of a legal reference book.

The set of references I used was:
  • EPC.App (IP.Appify) => EPC and Euro-PCT legal provisions, case law (Nov 20 - standard version from Amazon with the editor's annotations)
  • Indexed EPO-EPC Guidelines (Fireball Patents) => EPC implementation by EPO, case law (1 Nov 19)
  • National Law and Validation (Fireball Patents) => National Law tables (implementation by EPC states) and validation agreements (31 Oct 20)
  • EPO as a PCT Authority (Fireball Patents) => Euro-PCT and EPO's PCT implementation (31 Oct 20)
  • PCT.App (IP.Appify) => PCT and priority part of Paris Convention legal provisions (Sep 20 -  standard from Amazon, but printed with color mark-up made using Print on Demand option)
  • Complete PCT Applicant's Guide (Fireball Patents) => PCT implementation by all offices (1 Sep 20)
  • PCT References - Part 1 & 2 (Fireball Patents) => Most relevant PCT annexes (implementation by PCT states) and overviews (31 Oct 20)

To find things quickly:
  • During study, you need to learn what each book contains and where/how to find it. For example:
    • EPC.App is arranged according to Articles in numerical order, together with the relevant Rules. It has a Detailed Contents with the Articles, Rules and other contents like G-Decisions - this is the best tool to quickly scan through the contents if you are not sure where to look. There are also an Index of Legal Provisions to directly find specific Rules, and an Index of Decisions to directly find G, J , R, T & W case law. In general, the Articles and Rules of the EPC are arranged in chronological order as an application proceeds from filing to grant.
    • EPO-EPC Guidelines are arranged in approximately chronological Parts as an application proceeds from filing to grant. Substantive issues, such as amendment and patentability, are arranged per subject. The Detailed Table of Contents is the best tool to quickly scan through the contents. In most other cases, you will be following a specific chapter or section link from another reference, such as OJEPO or EPC.App
    • PCT.App is arranged according subjects in approximately chronological order, mirroring the structure of the WIPO Introduction to International and National Phases. It has a Detailed Contents with the Articles, Rules and other contents like Admin Instructions - this is the best tool to quickly scan through the contents if you are not sure where to look. There are also an Index of Legal Provisions to directly find specific Article and Rules. In general, the Articles of the PCT are arranged in chronological order as an application proceeds from filing to Chapter I entry, and from examination to Chapter II entry.
    • PCT Applicants' Guides (Introduction to International and National Phases) are arranged in approximately chronological order as an application proceeds from filing through search, publication, examination to national entry. The Detailed Table of Contents is the best tool to quickly scan through the contents. In some cases, you will be following a specific chapter or section link from another reference, such as PCT Newsletter or PCT.App.
  • To decide on which reference to use during the exam, determine: 
    • EPC, PCT or Euro-PCT?
    • More likely to be found under legal provisions or implementation?
    • If more than one, which will be quickest to find?

My approach to D1
  • I copied each question completely into the answer sheet, and only used occasional highlighting (this can waste a lot of time and does not generate marks). I left it in my answer just to have a copy immediately after the exam.
    • CTRL-C and CTL-V (Win 10) were sufficient to properly copy/paste all D1 questions except Q.4 (needed to manually remove formatting and tidy up lines)
  • I use 3 minutes per mark as a rule of thumb to quickly calculate how much time to spend. Traditionally, the D Exam was 330 minutes (3.3 mins/mark). This year, an extra 30 mins was given to compensate for the format (3.6 mins/mark). It is normal to run out of time answering D1 questions.
  • There are no negative marks and no requirement to fully complete everything you start - you want to generate enough to get 55 marks or higher. Get the marks first for the things you know well - if necessary, skip a part of a question until the end.
  • There is no time to read all the questions first, so I read each question in order as if I am going to answer it completely. If the question seems likely to take a long time to answer (or I have no idea), I skip it and go back to it at the end.
    • it is very difficult under pressure to read, understand and apply something you read for the first time (or it seems like the first time)
    • even if you think know the issues or can find them, you don't want to waste too much time 
  • I identified EPC, PCT and/or Euro-PCT parts while reading
  • I copied the last part of the questions ("the explicit questions") as a rough framework for my answer to make sure I didn't forget anything.
  • I made a rough vertical timeline by copying phrases and putting them in chronological order (no need to make it nice - just understandable during the exam). I avoided editing by sticking close to the exact wording, although I did reduce some long sentences. E.g.: 
    • -- EP-A1 was filed in 2018  A in English - X and Y, and claims invention X only
    • --  A.94(3) issued by the EPO on 5 October 2020
    • -- received by applicant A on 8 October 2020
    • -- No response has been filed
    • -- January 2021, he filed a European divisional application EP-A2 based on EP-A1 in French. claiming and describing invention Y
  • For some issues I know well, I have an idea how to form the answer and select the argumentation to use. For others, it can be less clear how to proceed, so I just to start working on pieces (like calculating time limits) until a bigger picture emerges. In most cases, the overall answer to the question about whether something is possible or not is added at the end.
  • Main part of answer includes identifying the correct law (legal provisions, case law and/or implementation) by citation, applying it step-by-step to the facts given and any other facts you can derive, and giving a conclusion as an answer (yes/no/yes if.../no).
  • Be conscious of where you are in the procedure - certain conditions must have already been fulfilled (and thus are less relevant to discuss). Focus should be on the next few weeks and major actions required in the future. Assume that the case takes place on the day of the exam - here 2 Mar 2021. 
  • At the end, if time, I check whether there are still facts from question that I have not used - these may need to be included somehow. But I am always trying to get to the next question, and often decide not to address these if I have already answered the question asked.
CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE DETAILS PER QUESTION/PART

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Lessons learned from e-EQE and looking to the future

Updated 18 Apr 2021: see also my post commenting on the epi discussion paper.
Updated 12 Apr 2021.
"It is only when the tide goes out that you see who's been swimming naked"
I already posted these comments on LinkedIn - this post gives a little more background. There was an enormous effort behind the EQE scenes, and a lot of people working many extra hours, but this could not prevent cracks appearing. 
On reflection, I think a few long-standing EQE issues may have played a role in creating the problems:
  • No effective communication with most candidates. Email is fine for sending standard messages, but there is little chance to request additional information. It is not always clear whether candidates actually receive them and understand the intention behind the emails.  A lot of candidates are surprised by changes in exam formats as not everyone prepares using a tutor, or with other students to discuss things.  
  • Secrecy and little transparency about every aspect of the exam and organization. Seen particularly by candidates who fail - it is very difficult to figure out where marks were missed, why the official answer was preferred, what alternatives were available etc. But this year, it was promised that the exams had been adapted to take into account the new format, but it was refused to provide any details as this was related to the content of the exams.
  • Just enough volunteers to make and mark the exams. No one expects perfection -  limited resources means that not everything can be addressed. But it is a professional exam, so it should be possible with sufficient preparation to have a reasonable expectation of passing. There is a minimum level that should always be achieved.
  • Few real limits for each paper in what can be asked. A real problem for many candidates is the habit of regularly introducing new things not announced before or tested before. It is unheard of in any other professional exam not to have an official detailed syllabus of what you need to know, both for the legal parts and the practical subjects. The REE is too vague to be useful, so candidates prepare based on unofficial study guides (like CEIPI or EQE Guide for Preparation) and doing old exams. There is still no clear distinction between legal subjects tested at Pre-Exam level and Main Exam level.
    And it is ridiculous that every year candidates need to have 2000 pages from the WIPO in case a question is asked about a PCT state (in many years, the WIPO and National Law are not needed at all).
  • Few real limits for each paper in length and style. Since 2017, an extra 30 mins was added to each Main Exam so that non-native speakers have more time. But there is no clear way in which this is enforced, and it is clear that the time has been eaten up by the exams. 
  • No effective way to assist those with En/Fr/Ge as a 2nd language. Non-native speakers have a clear disadvantage. The patent attorney terminology manuals are very useful, but reading/typing exams can still be slower. And giving everyone an extra 30 mins has now lost its effect.
Normally, these are compensated by a lot of flexibility in the marking, and that will be repeated this year. So, anyone well-prepared who generated a reasonable answer has a good chance (as in all other years). But moving forward, some suggestions of possible improvements:
  • Make e-EQE improvements highly visible, so that candidates know what to expect (platform + content) and can properly prepare. 
  • Using the new possibilities, better define the content to be tested and make sure it is relevant to daily work. 
  • Have a proper official syllabus for each exam - articles and rules, sections of Guidelines, case law, OJEPO's. 
  • Limit detailed PCT questions outside Europe to IP5 countries, and provide resources electronically.
  • Remove overlap in testing and preparation (candidates & committees). For example:
    • Pre-Exam: limit to only only legal questions, covering procedural and substantive law. Drop Claims Analysis (covered extensively in A, B, C). Use a mix of multiple choice and "D1"-style questions to test D1 level of knowledge. This is main test of legal knowledge.
    • Allow ME: A and ME: B to be taken anytime - either with Pre-Exam or Main Exam. These are practically oriented, relating to skills which are being developed early (drafting and amendment).
    • ME: A can be cut in half => reduce subject matter, focus mainly on independent claims,  provide less prior art.
    • ME: B is ridiculous with client giving you claims. Go back to old format, cut in half => reduced subject matter, only include a few claims, provide less prior art.
    • ME: D - limit to current D2 (D1 is now in Pre-Exam). But also include some basic trademarks/designs and basic trade secrets. Test legal concepts, and not substantive patent law (or greatly simplified substantive law).
      Expand basic foreign knowledge (JP, US) to include CN, KR (IP5). Also define clearly what you need to know. Possibly also test something about those foreign national patent systems. Knowledge of DE, FR and UK systems would also be useful.
    • ME: C has much repetition in attacks. Cut in half => fewer claims, provide a lot fewer documents. There should also be a proper infringement part in EQE - it makes most sense to add it here as technical understanding is important.
Perhaps also look even wider, putting the EQE in a broader perspective. A lot of effort is put into only passing candidates who are fit to practice, but there are many other people who interact with the EPO at different levels:
  • Permanent education required for qualified attorneys. For most, a lot of the knowledge is lost within a few months of taking their last exam. I know there were some attempts in the past to introduce this, and I know that no system is perfect, but something must be better than nothing. This would also address the issue of the varying knowledge levels of grandfathers \ grandmothers.
  • European formalities officer qualification. These are the people who have the most up-to-date procedural knowledge in the offices, but the levels of knowledge vary wildly. 
  • European patent agent qualification. Similar to US, where a basic knowledge of procedural and substantive law needed for those interacting with the patent office. This would be useful for people who do not wish to become patent attorneys (yet), or work in a company's patent department, or work in a lawyer's office.

Friday, March 5, 2021

e-EQE - C 2021 (D/E): copy to try, last exam, few technical problems

Updated 7 Mar 21 with status picture. Updated 6 Mar 21 with extra comments on C. Updated 5 Mar 21 with WISEflow unavailable picture :-)
Today was the e-EQE C Exam. I have extracted the claims of the patent as granted and added them to the printable files. I have also put the claims at the end of each part to simulate exam conditions - DE versionEN version (sorry no FR), The official compendium versions will be available next week.

  • I have not made it yet, but check the Telegram groups for some discussions and comments. Today there were not a lot of discussions - most seem to be happy to have survived the first eEQE, and to start the weekend early. Some discussion about the length and complexity. See below for some comments on the problems.
  • No widespread technical issues πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

1. Thanks to the EQE organisation, and good luck with the marking
  • Thanks to all the invigilators, helpdesk staff, EQE secretariat members, and epi/EPO members who have been working tirelessly for the last few months to make it happen. Even under pretty stressful conditions (on both sides), the majority of candidates said that they felt listened to and helped πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘. 
    • it seems that the general experience during the C exam that everything was running smoothly πŸ’ͺ.
  • And good luck to those involved in the marking - at least you will not have to struggle with poor handwriting any more πŸ˜‰, although there are a lot of spelling mistakes and copy/paste errors to puzzle over.

2. My suggestions to candidates after the eEQE
  • You survived the historic first eEQE πŸ₯‡
  • Put your TAB and WINKEY caps back πŸ˜€
  • Manually uninstall Lockdown Browser: in Win10, it is found in the start menu under Respondus
    • be suspicious of any emails mentioning WISEflow or Lockdown Browser
    • if you get any emails about "updates" of the Lockdown Browser, do not click on them
  • ... actual screenshot of WISEflow (5 Mar 21 2330) - EQE candidates got their revenge πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£πŸ’£, or at least "broke" WISEflow
  • ... and the status page on Friday indicated that the last major incident was 3 days ago (Tues was also the "D1 incident")
  • Preferably unplug all the extra cameras and microphones. Or at least cover the cameras when not in use.
  • Take a couple of days off and celebrate as much as you can respecting your local lockdown rules πŸ˜‰
  • Don't read blog posts about model answers. They are usually made by EQE nerds who made the exams under relaxed conditions. They could still be wrong. Even if it is a perfect answer, no-one knows where all the marks will be awarded. 
  • The marking sheets are only finalised after the exam following discussions within the committees about what to accept and what not. For example, if there was an issue almost no-one dealt with, they usually compensate by awarding marks for something else that most people got. The exams also have built-in fail-safes, so if you miss something, you will not lose marks everywhere. 

3. Telegram chat groups

  • The main group has 285 members, for general issues and WISEflow + LockDown Browser + Zendesk issues. The (ABC+PE claims analysis) group has 159 members, the (D+PE legal) group has 131 members, and the summer study group for EQE 2022 preparation already has 81 members. Now also a EQE Marketplace if you want to sell or buy EQE materials.
    • Started for students to discuss with others, but completely open to any tutors from any organisation who want to just read or join the discussions. 
    • If you have just done an exam, only discuss the answers if you can really take it. For most people, it is better not to discuss - you can't change your answer, no-one knows what the marking will be for particular answers (Main Exam) and sometimes more than one Pre-Exam answer is accepted. 
    • Group rules: no discussions of ways to cheat, no exchanges of large sections of copyrighted materials (excerpts, annotated examples, WIPO/EPO docs etc. are allowed), no requesting or sharing of exam materials until after the scheduled end of the last part of that exam, no requesting or sharing of invigilator password.

4. WISEflow, before the exam, after the exam
  • At least one person noticed that the pdf of their D1-Part 1 and D2 answers was missing statements and even had a blank page. It is not clear how widespread it is, but it is advisable to check (while you remember) whether it is complete after the exam.
    • I have not seen any messages about problems after the A, B or C Exams
  • The copy of the answer from Part 1 was available very quickly in WISEflow πŸ‘. 

5. LockDown Browser

  • No widespread technical issues πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  • Wednesday, after the widespread problems D1-Part 1, the Examination Board issued a very clear unambiguous commitment to ease candidates minds:
  • On the official e-EQE page, a message from Examination Board (3 Mar 21):
    • The Examination Board of the EQE is aware of a situation that affected paper D1.1. The Examination Board guarantees that the marking process will be conducted so that no candidate will be disadvantaged because of that.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
  • Problems seen when handing-in answers at the end of D2 (quoted from Telegram chat)
    • No problems reported for C-1 and C-2.
  • Copy/paste from the C Exam did not retain the formatting at all, and CTRL-SHIFT-V or the remove formatting button removed line breaks and a lot of spaces between words.
    • copy/paste is a major advantage of an online exam. It is disappointing that this cannot be made to function properly

    6. Reporting complaints & problems to helpdesk@eqe.org
    • See here for post about Instructions to Candidates
      • ItC 11- email complaints regarding conduct as soon as possible, but no later than end of day of the exam. ItC 39 - email report on any disruptions during exam for which candidates are not responsible or which are beyond their control within 24 hrs of end of exam.
    • The EQE organisation is well aware of many issues, and general issues affecting large numbers of people will be taken into account during the marking. However, they may not be aware how a disruption or incident has affected an individual candidates performance. The idea of reporting is to give them a chance to consider whether to take it into account during the marking. They may also not realise how a positive thing for many (30 mins extension) could have a negative effect on an individual.
    • As an emails need to be sent very quickly, and most candidates are pretty tired after the exam, I worked with Preston Richard (Bardehle Pagenberg) to make a complaint template with some of the possible things you may wish to mention (we collected them from the blogs and chats). It may also reduce the number of emails from each candidate.
      • But don't just copy everything and send it - it must be personalised to explain your situation and experiences.
    CLICK BELOW FOR COMMENTS ON C (no spoilers) 

    e-EQE - B 2021 (D/E/F): copy to try yourself, very long exam, few technical problems

    😱Update 6 Mar 21: note added on formatting.
     Yesterday was the e-EQE B Exam. Sorry for the delay, but I was waiting for the compendium version. They are being put online the day after the exam πŸ‘. It is difficult to extract 13 non-printable pages, and there were complaints about the formatting, so I wanted to check. I have slightly amended them by putting the online only pages at the end to simulate exam conditions - DE version, EN version, FR version

    • I was dreading this exam as it was the worst to do online due to the large amount of unprintable pages, and the frequent need to compare parts of the exam. 
    • I have not made it yet, but check the Telegram groups for some discussions and comments. There were certainly a lot of discussion about the length and complexity yesterday. See below for some comments on the problems.
    • For any one who struggled and feels desperate, remember that the final marking (what is required, accepted, what is not accepted and any deductions) still has to be finalised. They fine tune everything based on how the paper was made by a large number of candidates. 
    • Answers posted on blogs are often made by 2-3 nerds who spend several hours doing it, and usually represents a theoretical answer. But it could be wrong, the number of marks to be awarded is unknown, and other solutions could be accepted.
    • No widespread technical issues πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

    1. Telegram chat groups

    • The main group has 284 members, for general issues and WISEflow + LockDown Browser + Zendesk issues. The (ABC+PE claims analysis) group has 154 members, the (D+PE legal) group has 130 members, and the summer study group for EQE 2022 preparation already has 79 members. Now also a EQE Marketplace if you want to sell or buy EQE materials.
      • Started for students to discuss with others, but completely open to any tutors from any organisation who want to just read or join the discussions. 
      • If you have just done an exam, only discuss the answers if you can really take it. For most people, it is better not to discuss - you can't change your answer, no-one knows what the marking will be for particular answers (Main Exam) and sometimes more than one Pre-Exam answer is accepted. 
      • Group rules: no discussions of ways to cheat, no exchanges of large sections of copyrighted materials (excerpts, annotated examples, WIPO/EPO docs etc. are allowed), no requesting or sharing of exam materials until after the scheduled end of the last part of that exam, no requesting or sharing of invigilator password.

    2. WISEflow, before the exam, after the exam
    • Some problems accessing exams for printing before the exam (the links do not appear), so some candidates could only read the pages online during the exam
      • Helpdesk answer: ".. participant’s computer has changed its external IP addresses from when they last refreshed the page in WISEflow (flow overview)". Refreshing only the flow page (where the download links are visible) is not enough.
      • Solution (1) from helpdesk: Reload (Refresh in browser or CTRL F5) of flow overview page in WISEflow
      • Solution (2) from participant (if (1) does not work): logout and back in to WISEflow
    • At least one person noticed that the pdf of their D1-Part 1 and D2 answers was missing statements and even had a blank page. It is not clear how widespread it is, but it is advisable to check (while you remember) whether it is complete after the exam.
      • I have not seen any messages about problems after the A or B Exams

    3. LockDown Browser

    • No widespread technical issues πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
    • A lot of individual issues with the Browser crashing. In spite of sometimes losing up to 20 mins, and requesting extra time, a number of people reported that the request was denied.
    • Wednesday, after the widespread problems D1-Part 1, the Examination Board issued a very clear unambiguous commitment to ease candidates minds:
    • On the official e-EQE page, a message from Examination Board (3 Mar 21):
      • The Examination Board of the EQE is aware of a situation that affected paper D1.1. The Examination Board guarantees that the marking process will be conducted so that no candidate will be disadvantaged because of that.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘
    • Problems seen when handing-in answers at the end of D2 (quoted from Telegram chat)
      • Could not submit because of "connection error". System message gets you nowhere as everything is greyed out. 
      • Told by Zendesk to refresh. They said it's a common issue. System overload as everyone submits at the same time (and the D-2 has a larger data volume). 
      • Also seen when handing-in A and B. So expected for C-1 and C-2.

      4. Reporting complaints & problems to helpdesk@eqe.org
      • See here for post about Instructions to Candidates
        • ItC 11- email complaints regarding conduct as soon as possible, but no later than end of day of the exam. ItC 39 - email report on any disruptions during exam for which candidates are not responsible or which are beyond their control within 24 hrs of end of exam.
      • The EQE organisation is well aware of many issues, and general issues affecting large numbers of people will be taken into account during the marking. However, they may not be aware how a disruption or incident has affected an individual candidates performance. The idea of reporting is to give them a chance to consider whether to take it into account during the marking. They may also not realise how a positive thing for many (30 mins extension) could have a negative effect on an individual.
      • As an emails need to be sent very quickly, and most candidates are pretty tired after the exam, I worked with Preston Richard (Bardehle Pagenberg) to make a complaint template with some of the possible things you may wish to mention (we collected them from the blogs and chats). It may also reduce the number of emails from each candidate.
        • But don't just copy everything and send it - it must be personalised to explain your situation and experiences.
      CLICK BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT B (mild spoilers)