Saturday, December 22, 2018

I will be a "guinea-pig" again for the epi in Munich (EQE 2019)

I am happy to have been picked again to "guinea-pig" the EQE papers on behalf of the epi. I will be doing all the papers again - A, B, C and D. Although we are called "bench markers", we do not calibrate the exam or set a base level. The Examination Committees and markers rely on our papers for initial discussions about aspects that should get (or not get) marks and the weighting for the aspects. This helps fine-tune their internal instructions before they start the actual marking. They have about 6 people making each paper at different locations and with different backgrounds under exam conditions - these volunteers have already passed the EQE, and ideally they want us to score around 50 points.

To anyone who has passed the EQE (or passes it next year), please consider volunteering next year when the epi sends the email in October. It is very much appreciated by the Examination Board and Committees. You are not paid for the hours, but travelling expenses are refunded by the EPO via the epi. It is also possible to sign up for one paper only, but the chance of being picked is higher if you sign up for more than one. For EQE tutors, it is invaluable to sit papers you see for the first time like this.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Suggested papers for AB practice

As there are not many combined technology papers, it is recommended to do some of the older papers to practice. In particular, it is good to practice exra old papers in the least familiar technology. The selected papers below tend to be more "C-like", avoiding chemical formula in the claims and also avoiding the very mechanical inventions. The papers and Examiners' Reports are found in the Compendium.

Combined papers

A - 4 hrs given to make a 3½ hr paper
B - 3½ hrs given to make a 3 hr paper

After introduction of Pre-Exam
A - 3½ hrs to make a 3½ hr paper
B - 3 hrs to make a 3 hr paper
  • A CH 2015 
  • A EM 2014, 2013
  • B CH 2015
  • B EM 2016, 2015, 2013
Before introduction of Pre-Exam
A - 3½ hrs to make a 3½ hr paper
B - 4 hrs to make a 4 hr paper
  • A CH 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004 
  • A EM 2000
  • B CH 2012, 2010, 2009, 2003
  • B EM 2012, 2010, 2007
Updated - see post from May 2020

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My FREE printable PCT Applicants Guide for EQE2019

Every year, 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 1980 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. It is available for download to print yourself, or you can order an A5-sized book.
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 which can speed up answering questions during the exam.

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

This year, the material is divided into 2 parts instead of 3 parts. A Detailed Table of Contents (with page numbers) is also included for the Applicant Guide Introductions.

My book is 900 pages and free of charge - it can be downloaded in from my patent firm's website. Feel free to pass on the links to anyone who needs them. To save paper when printing, it should be printed with 2 pages on each side of an A4.

Update: for those who cannot easily print out several hundred pages, the two parts can be ordered here in A5 format (21 x 14cm):

Add each part separately to your basket as they are considered separate books on the Boekbestellen website.

Update (17/1/19): the thin paper is available again.

Changes compared to last year:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Indexed EPO Guidelines (1 Nov 2018) now available to order

The EPO no longer makes the Guidelines available on paper. So you have to print out the 960 pages, and put it into a binder.

My version is printed on 50g A5 paper - a convenient format as a desktop reference, to take to oral proceedings, or to take to the EQE.

Update (17/1/19): the thin paper is noe available for new orders.

On paper, the Guidelines have never been easy to use. This version improves on the official version by:
- providing a single Detailed Table of Contents at the front (instead of per part), to quickly scan the paragraphs
- using page numbers
- indicating sections with a major amendment in the last 3 years

Legal citations & references are underlined, making them easier to spot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

New innovations to learn patent law

Two websites offering something new to help students - online tools that you can access anywhere at any time, so you can study when it is most convenient:

1. EPC.App
A very smart way to allow you to annotate the EPC. You can use the existing annotations and comments from the authors, adapt them as you wish and add your own. So, you can add extra comments about things you have difficulty with, or short answer templates for things asked frequently on the exam. You access your version on-line from any device, and when you are getting close to the exam, you make a pdf and print it. The law is updated twice a year, so you can keep using it after the exam as well. It also solves the problem you have updating your legal book when studying over two years (Pre-Exam then Main Exam). The standard price is comparable (in some cases cheaper) than buying a legal book each year, but they do have a Student Edition which is free for EQE candidates until 31-03-2019. It is available in English and German.

2. Practice for the EQE
Test yourself with questions about EPC & PCT. The best way to learn the law is to learn it in pieces, and to work on it frequently. This an easy-to-use platform that allows you to test your legal knowledge and keep track of your progress. The questions are asked in different ways, so you can try different styles. It is accessible on-line on any device. The instant feedback and oveviews of what you got wrong means you can concentrate on those areas the next time you go through it. They are still adding content, but there is currently no charge to use what they have. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Report from the EQE Tutors Meeting - Oct 2018

In October, the EPO & epi arrange an annual meeting of EQE Tutors and members of the EQE Committees (EC's). Information & views are exchanged to help Tutors prepare Candidates for future exams, and to influence how future exams are made and marked. It is a good opportunity to learn about how each paper is made and tested, and to meet the EC's. In particular, anything highly relevant for the next exam (in this case EQE 2019) is communicated.
A full report usually appears in the December version of epi information (I don't make this anymore), but here are my most important conclusions:

1. ABCD: extra 30 minutes

  • There were concerns that some papers (this year B and C) seemed to be longer than average, eating up the extra 30 minutes given to make the paper. The EC's assured us that the papers are made and tested based on the time limits defined in the Exam Regulations (REE). The extra 30 minutes remains extra time for candidates to make the paper, and compensates for slower reading and writing by those who do not do the paper in their native language. 
  • My advice is to build & practice a methodology for doing the papers without the extra 30 minutes. You can then decide at the exam how to use this.

2. D: lower passing rate in 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Using DII to become Fit to Practice

Every year, the EPO hosts a Tutor's Meeting where EQE tutors discuss the last exams with the Examination Committee's who made them.
This year, on 18 Oct 2018, I will talk about why the DII part (Legal Opinion) of the D paper should be embraced by trainees, tutors & mentors to make trainees a better patent attorney. And trainees should embrace DII to make passing the D Paper easier. Click here to download the presentation from my firm's website - it also includes a basic methodology to start with, instructions on how to adapt and customize it, and shows the real-life skills you should practice to arrive at your own efficient (and high scoring) way of doing DII. Some possible analysis tools and matrices are also described.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A good book for Opposition & Appeals for EQE (and real-life)

This year's D paper had a lot of questions about Opposition and Appeal. The information in most legal books is difficult to read as there are not many dedicated legal provisions to group everything under. Also Appeals are not covered in the EPO Guidelines (except for Interlocutory Revision - Art. 109 EPC).
A good book for study and real-life is Proceedings Before the EPO: A Practical Guide to Success in Opposition and Appeal by Marcus Müller & Cees Mulder.
It not only explains the legal part, but it also explains how the procedures work and has a lot of practical tips. The version is from 2015, but most of it is still current.
For the Appeal part, also print out the Rules of Procedure Boards of Appeal (RPBA) as these are referenced quite frequently.

Note that the RPBA Rules are likely to be updated in the near future - see proposal here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Advice on preparing for EQE 2019 Paper D in about 160 hours

I often get asked about how best to prepare for Paper D. Ideally, you should start no later than September. Here is the minimum you should do before the exam.

The main differences with Pre-Exam:
  • More subjects they can ask about
  • You have to decide based on the question which law to consider and which to apply (no possible answers are given)
  • You have to deal with DII (a very large, open question advising the client worth 60 marks)

1) Study DI methodology - 8 hours
Learn how to efficiently answer = to get the most marks in time available.
  • Ask someone else or get a book (see below). 
  • Do the DI questions of 2013 one-by-one (don't do Q.2 - law is obsolete) and really study them: what is being asked, how is it being asked, what should be in your answer. 
  • Look in the Examiners Report for the minimum required (statements + legal basis) for full marks. 
  • You get marks for giving an answer, and explaining how you got to the answer using the facts you have been given in the question. 
  • Figure out if you missed a major issue or a minor issue - concentrate on learning lessons about major issues. 
  • Study Candidates Solution for tips on writing your answer - the phrasing used, the detail level and organisation. Note that these are candidates getting almost full marks on each answer - you do not need to be at this level on all answers to pass. But you need to be able to get close to full marks on the legal subjects you know well. 
  • You don't need to write full sentences - bulleted short statements are acceptable. 
  • Note that the compendium is never updated, so some legal provisions may be out of date, and the fees will also be incorrect in many cases. 

2) Learn core of legal subjects (EPC and PCT) - 60 hours
Learn how the law fits around them, learn how to find things quickly in your legal book.
  • Knowledge is tested by answering questions
  • Do the 150 selected questions from the DeltaPatents D Book (see page 9 of the Questions part).
  • Do most of them fully, but to save some time do some of them quickly by concentrating on the most relevant part of the answer. 
  • For the modules with 1 or 2 questions, you can do them all. For the ones with 5 or more, just do every other one - you can go back and do the missed ones in a second run through.
  • Copy some of the answers as templates into your legal books.
  • Do additional questions in important area where you may be weak (like PCT)
(** 16 Oct 18: see below for updated comments about doing DII **)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

EQE2018 Examiner Reports with expected solutions

For those who want to practice the papers, or to analyse their own performance, the EQE 2018 compendium is now almost complete:

Examiners Reports show the expected solutions and some of the alternatives that were accepted:

For anyone who unfortunately failed, a marking sheet will be provided with the official results letter, showing the number of marks per question awarded by each marker. 

Candidate's Solutions are usually added after the summer (one in each language). These are usually someone who scored about 80 points. In most cases, they are made by a native speaker who wrote a lot, so don't consider these to be typical. But they can be a good source of terminology and phrasing.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Congratulations to those who passed EQE 2018

The results for the EQE Main Exam 2018 are here. Congratulations if you passed at least something - none of the papers are easy, especially when you take into account the stress. There were many comments in the Candidate's survey this year that the extra 30 minutes seems to have been cancelled out by the increased length, particularly for C and D. C and D tend to require a lot of writing, so if more time is needed to read the papers, there is less time is available to score points.

The missing scores in the graphs below at 43, 44, 49, 50 are due to the extra check that is done - if you are just failing, everything you handed-in is screened to see if you are to be considered "fit-to-practice". If so, extra points may be awarded

Paper D
Well-done to those who passed D. The final passing rate is about 7% less than last year. The DI was a lot to get through. DII was a different style compared to recent years, but it was also shorter than in 2017. My advice for D is to skip one of the DI questions (the one you know will take a long time to look up and answer). Do the DII as fully as possible and the rest of the DI questions.

Paper C
C was 7 pages longer than in 2017 - I felt like it took forever to read everything. The passing rate is slightly (3%) lower than last year, so it does not seem to have been a problem. Unfortunately, with C, you have to go through every thing - even documents that are not to suitable for the major part of an attack may contain definitions or something else useful. On C, when you have enough for an attack, write it down - don't wait for the complete picture before starting.

Paper B
This was the second year with the universal technologies. The relatively high passing rate from 2017 (80%) has been maintained. It seems that more Candidates scored 60 - 80 points compared to 2017. The advantage of the B paper (compared to A) is that you are given the starting point (the claims and part of the description as filed), and you are pointed towards the solution by the objections of the examiner and the letter from the client.

Paper A
The A paper also has the same passing rate as last year (62%). To optimally prepare for A, you need to be familiar with both chemistry and electromechanical claiming practice, as well as know how to draft a method and product/apparatus claim.

See here for an easy-to-use site dedicated to the EQE statistics made by Joeri Beetz, allowing you to do your own analysis.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pre-Exam 2018 - congratulations to those with ambiguous answers

Several candidates who appealed their Pre-Exam 2018 failing grade of less than 70 have been successful. After taking the arguments provided in appeal into account, three more answers in the Pre-Exam Examiners' Report have been amended. See here for a track changes version (at the top of my Study Materials page).

Legal Questions:
4.4 True or False
5.3 True or False

Claims Analysis:
13.1 True or False

This is in addition to 12.2 and 12.4 which were already considered ambiguous at the time of marking.

Congratulations to those who have now passed - you have the weekend to celebrate. But not too long 😉- you need to enrol for the Main Exam between 9 July and 3 September for the Main Exam. And to make a study plan 😱.
A big thanks also to the Examination Board for objectively considering the arguments from those appealing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Looking forward to tutoring Papers A & B in Maastricht for EQE 2019

I am proud to be joining the team in Maastricht to help with their EQE Paper A B C D  and Pre-Exam Training Courses.

The team are: Cees Mulder, Nyske Blokhuis, Natasja Duhayon and Isabelle Surdej.

I am part of the AB team - together with Natasja and Isabelle, we are preparing an exam methodology and step-by-step training program to deal with the challenges of the current papers. The benchmarking I did in February under EQE conditions was ideal to draft and test a step-by-step approach, and to think about how to deal with the chemical and electro-mechanical styles & practices. I may also be helping with the C course and the Pre-Exam Claims Analysis.
The AB training consists of 3-days in Maastricht (19-21 November 2018), followed by online assignments and contact with the tutors through the university's electronic learning environment. The groups are not large, so if you are interested, make sure you sign up quickly using the form here. Maastricht is also a wonderful place to visit for a couple of days with historic buildings, friendly people, good food/beer and a lively nightlife :-)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

EQE 2018 Paper C

Today I did paper C. If you want to look, here are official copies of the paper.

It felt very long, and it turns out it was 7 pages longer than 2017.

Most of the people I talked to had issues getting through everything, and the inventive step seemed very complicated to sort out. Almost every document had comments related to other documents, and some negative statements which were possibly meant to be teachings away.

There were some relatively straightforward novelty attacks (which you could do when you found them), but for the inventive step attacks you would usually read through everything first to see what the strongest was. By that time, there was not much time left to write out the attacks, and it was not so easy to pick the closest prior art. The comments I heard from others was that it was "overwhelming" and "endless reading".

In a few weeks you will get a copy of your answers. If you cut up the exam paper (with your childsafe scissors ,-),  and glued or taped it into your answer, check carefully to see if any piece is missing. Or whether there are pages missing. It can happen that pages get stuck together, and then are missed during scanning. Or pieces fall off. If you notice anything, notify the EQE secretariat.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

EQE 2018 Papers A & B

Today I did papers A and B. This is the second year that the technlogies are combined, so as expected a combination of electromechanical and chemistry skills were required. If you want to look, here are the official copies of the A and the B papers.
I think these papers were nicely balanced and they have clearly added extra guidance in each paper for those from the other field.

- A was about using lasers to create protrusions in glass. So this mainly mechanical (physics), with some slight chemistry style (instructions about what is essential). It was good paper, although I heard different views afterwards about the claim categories that should be used. It was 5 pages shorter than last year.

- B was a chemical paper, with a lot of electrical elements. I really liked this paper, even though it was longer than usual (a lot of information in the application and a lot in the prior art - it was 5 pages longer than in 2017).
I thought it was a good mix, and shows the advantages of mixing the technical fields. I have had cases like this in real-life with electrical and chemical elements, and you need to understand how to claim in both areas and to be able to judge novelty and inventive step.
They also provided an extra set of clean claims this year from the client so you could choose to work from the claims as filed or the claims as proposed by the client. Everybody I talked to had a different answer for claim 1, so it should be interesting to see what was actually expected.

In a few weeks you will get a copy of your answers. If you cut up the exam paper (with your childsafe scissors ,-),  and glued or taped it into your answer, check carefully to see if any piece is missing. Or whether there are pages missing. It can happen that pages get stuck together, and then are missed during scanning. Or pieces fall off. If you notice anything, notify the EQE secretariat.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

EQE 2018 Paper D

I sat the paper under exam conditions in Munich as a bench marker to give the examination committees some materials for their marking discussion. If you want to look through the paper yourself, here are official copies of the paper.

My impressions were that it was a reasonable D paper - they are never easy, but I think that there were a lot of parts that were do-able and they asked frequent EQE subjects.
Most of the DI questions were open, so you needed to make strict choices about what to do - otherwise you ran out of time. The DII was more manageable than last year, and anyone who is Dutch or has lived in The Netherlands for more than a year will have immediately understood the product produced by the invention.😋. DII had less exploitation to be discussed.

Click below for some more details and spoilers about the subjects you had to deal with

Monday, February 5, 2018

I will be an epi benchmarker in Munich for EQE 2018

Every year, the Examination Committees rely on papers from "benchmarkers" to help fine-tune the marking. These papers are made by people who have already passed the EQE, and ideally they are looking for people who can get around 50 points.
The benchmarkers take the exam at the same time as everybody else under the same exam conditions. Their answers are then be used in the group discussions about what should be awarded points, and what is insufficient.
I am happy to support this on behalf of the epi. To anyone who has passed the EQE (or passes it this year), please volunteer next year when the epi sends the email in October. It is very much appreciated by the Examination Board and Committees. 

Last year I only did the D paper - this year I will do all 4 papers (D, A, B, C) in Munich. I just bought my safety scissors in case I need to cut up the papers.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Indexed EPO Guidelines (1 Nov 2017) now available to order

Recently, the EPO announced that it would no longer make the Guidelines for Examination available on paper. Although the electronic version is useful for searching, some people still  prefer to use a paper version, particularly when studying.

My version is available to order as an A5-sized book. It is suitable as a desktop reference for everyday use, or to take to the EQE.

It includes my own 33-page Detailed Contents:
  • abbreviated titles for all sections - in almost all cases, a single line, so that you can scan through the contents faster
  • the contents for all sections are combined into one section at the front - this makes it easier to scan to find sections you are looking for, without having to first guess which part it might be in 
  • both the conventional section numbers and page numbers are given next to each title, speeding up finding the right page
  • sections indicated that have undergone a major amendment in the last 3 years, so you can identify possible EQE questions
It is lighter (690g) and smaller (21 x 14 x 2.8cm with 880 pages) than the official paper copy that used to be available. Note that the paper used is thin - 50 gr/m2 - to keep the size and weight low.
In comparison, the Visser book weighs 1220 g and is slightly bigger (24 x 16 3.6 cm with 950 pages).