Thursday, March 4, 2021

e-EQE - A 2021 (EN & DE): copy to try yourself, few technical problems

Yesterday was the e-EQE A Exam. If you want to try yourself, see here for complete copies with first the printable parts and the online only parts. The online parts have been extracted from answers, so they may not be perfect. The font is also quite small (would normally be 7 pages). A 2021 - complete (EN) and A 2021 - complete (DE). Sorry, I had no French answer to work with. The EPO normally makes official copies available in the compendium in the week after the EQE. 

  • I have not made the paper yet, but check the Telegram groups for some discussions and comments. There were certainly a lot of discussion about different answers yesterday.
  • No widespread technical issues 👍👍👍

1. Telegram chat groups

  • The main group has 265 members, for general issues and WISEflow + LockDown Browser + Zendesk issues. The (ABC+PE claims analysis) group has 135 members, the (D+PE legal) group has 124 members, and the summer study group for EQE 2022 preparation already has 71 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 papers 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 Exam

3. LockDown Browser (many comments posted under PE 2021 post and in Telegram chats)

  • No widespread technical issues 👍👍👍
  • Yesterday, 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.👍👍👍
  • 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). 
    • So be aware of this for A,B, 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.

    46 comments:

    1. Paper A was not good for me. tricky and had some contradictory statements leading to me feeling absolutely confused. I wasn't the only one though.

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      1. Yes - in the Telegram chat, there a lot of discussions about many different solutions.
        But that can be an advantage as they will have to take different interpretations into account in the marking.

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      2. thanks Pete - problem with A is that if you omit a feature (that was confusing to me) e.g. 25um, you basically get zero marks. On the day, I was so confused by the statement that I didn't feel comfortable with it. Didn't help me. Some over on Delta patents think it was a deliberate act by the EPO to make it confusing/conflicting. We have always been told that the EPO does not trick candidates with confusing words/phrases but I differ with this on yesterday's paper. I don't think its fair especially if so many marks are associated with it.

        Paper B today was just a paper from hell.

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      3. Well, if you miss an essential feature, you still get marks for the independent claim They deduct a few marks, depending on how crucial it is (if you use the feature in your explanation of how the invention solves the problem, then it is essential). If it is a dependent claim, you get some of the deduction back.
        For a claim that's not novel, you get zero marks.
        It is true that they sometimes give you something ambiguous, but that is usually to force at least some argumentation.
        But there have been plenty of cases where phrases are read differently by different people, and that was unintentional. If enough people read it wrong or different, they may take it into account in the marking.
        They try to be as clear as possible, but they do sometimes choose phrases or words that are easier to translate. They are supposed to be synonyms, but some synonyms can have a slightly different meaning.
        Yes, I have heard about the B nightmare!

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      4. If your claim is not novel - I understand its zero. If the distinguishing feature is one of your dependent claims, would you at least claw some marks back for it as a dependent claim. Does seem it a bit harsh to offer zero marks where you can technically still amend or respond in R71(3) in the real world.

        Also, do you think your method claims be marked separately from product claims.

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      5. Yes, they will look at the other claims, and your argumentation why the independent claim was novel. If the argumentation is considered reasonable, you will still get some marks.
        Yes, method claims are mostly marked separate.

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      6. thanks Pete.

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    2. I probably shouldn't post this, but who knows how many will read it ;) I had problems handing in D1-2. I panicked, but it worked after refresh. So, I handed-in D2 5 seconds before the end to negate the auto-hand-in. Didn't experience problems.

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      1. Hi Leigh, you are not the only one. There seems to be a major issue when everyone hands in at the same time. But from the message I have seen, if you contact the helpdesk, they will sort it out.
        But make sure you check your answer to see if it is complete.
        Also handing in a couple of minutes earlier may be advisable if you really have finished.

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    3. Hi Pete,
      would you recommend to complain about several mistakes in paper B of today?
      Reference sings mentioned in the description were not present in the figures, reference sings in the fugures were not mentioned in the description, amendments were not indicated as amendments in the clients claims (not printed bold).
      D1 stated in Par. 2 (I have the german version only) "Die vorliegende Erfindung stellt einen Regenwurm-Kompostierer zur Kompostierung organischen Abfalls bereit, der einen Behälter mit einem unteren Basismittel umfasst, das durch Seitenwände von einem sich nach oben öffnenden Abdeckungsmittel getrennt ist. Das Basismittel ist mit einer Anordnung von Abflusslöchern versehen, wodurch Feuchtigkeit aus dem Behälter abfließen kann." Whatever the "Basismittel" is, remains unclear. The figure does not show any "Basismittel".
      This took additional time to double check ending up even more confused while paper B was already more than one could do in 3,5 h.
      Thanks a lot for all your support via your blog by the way!

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      1. Thanks for the kind words :-)
        Yes - complain about anything that affected you, and that includes any mistakes and ambiguities in the paper. This is only a 3.5 hour exam, so every delay of a few minutes is critical.
        They also promised to adapt it to the online format.

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      2. Hi Pete, is there any way we can be negatively affected by complaining?

        I would not normally complain about a tough exam but I really think something needs to be said here.

        In addition to the paper being literred with mistakes (and claim amendments not shown), the paper seemed excessively long. I think in the past you mentioned that the normal B is really not possible with this new format to do in time, but instead of 'adapting to the online format' they seem to have made it even longer?? Is that something I can base a complaint on?

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      3. I think there was also some issues with paper A too with conflicting, conflating and confusing statements in paper A.

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      4. I don't see any negative side. Yes - all those aspects can be complained about. They then have to decide how to use that - some things may be more generally taken into account. Individually, before they take a decision on your mark, they will consider it. There are no guarantees. But it is better to complain now, than to wait until after the results to consider an appeal.
        It does not have to be very long. And it can help you put it behind you, particularly if you are doing C tomorrow.

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      5. Ok thanks Pete, will do.

        As for issues in A, yes I think it was a tricky paper and not what we normally expect but it was still a doable paper. Today's B seems to actually be defective it needs to be noted, particularly since this year is the first using the new online type system.

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    4. The set of papers this week was very difficult coupled with the major changes.

      My summary (parking aside the language-gate and just focusing on the papers)

      Paper D - DII did not seem to be shorten to account for 50 marks. There were 6 applications to analysed and read online. Didn't feel like it was appropriately adjusted.
      minor mistakes on numbering with D.

      Paper A - confusing/conflicting/contradictory statements on some supposedly key features. To a person where EN, FR or DE is not necessarily their native language, this is damaging. it also seemed quite confusing to those who EN. FR and DE is their native language.

      Paper B - missing figures, missing text, amendments not indicated (which I missed because of it). Computer-implemented claims which non-electronics person would not necessarily have any confidence in amending too. There's a reason why we pass some specialist applications to our colleagues. Its a bit like having a chemical structure claim and asking electronics colleagues to amend it. Sure, you know the case law but you've never amended any claim like this before. I think its grossly outside the remit of paper B. Then there's oral disclosure, internet disclosure to deal with + 3 independent claims.

      I'm dreading what is going to come up on Paper C.

      All of this adds to the fact that the papers didn't seemed to be properly checked or adjusted to the online. It feels this year the EPO is out to get as many candidates as possible to fail.

      Even if it was done on paper, I think papers A or B would be the most difficult papers by far so far.

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      1. D: I thought the D2 was doable within the 3 hrs, and I could see that there were fewer loose ends to worry about. Soo, it was adapted to the 50 marks. As there were only 4 pages, I think the format didn't matter so much.
        I have not done A or B, but I saw some of the comments. In general, any letter from a client can have conflicting statements on patent attorney work.
        B: I don't agree that CII is a specialist field anymore - every technical field is using this. So everyone needs to know how to claim it. They have also spent the last few years expanding the Guidelines on it.
        But they should have providing some guidance in the paper.
        Try to be positive - no one know where the marks will be awarded and which solutions will be accepted, not even the Committees. The Committees look at how the paper has been done by large groups of candidates.
        Messy papers can be easier to pass than straightforward ones.

        And don't be influenced by model solutions posted by 2-3 nerds who have several hours to look at it ;-)

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      2. I didn't even get to finish my inventive step argument let alone do a good novelty assessment as I spent so long trying to get the right amendment amongst getting lost looking through the various documents.
        The B paper definitely was not a 3.5 hour exam. It should have been 4 hours in all reality considering the 4 prior art documents and 3 independent claims. Any other year there were at most 3 prior art documents or so and at most 2 independent claims. Taking into consideration the electronic format and the added stress of dealing with issues from the other others during the week - confidence zapped.
        There is no confidence in the EPO anymore, their treatment of candidates is beyond a joke in my opinion. Shouldn't be tolerated but not much we can do other than rely on epi members to bring our concerns and issues to light during discussions down the line.

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      3. I spent more time copying and pasting amended claims and formatting claims in the text editor. It really wasn't doable.

        I ended up having to skip the last claim 6 and just trusted client's amendments because I simply had no time left to deal with CII claim. I had to move on to basis/clarity/novelty/inventive step and even then it was very rushed job.

        Yes, its CII could be deemed as more relevant but as a non-electronic person, I wouldn't feel confident amending claims without checking it with a colleague in the field. Likewise, there is an argument that they wouldn't just amend chemical structure claims without checking with a chemists. We are trained by our supervisors and as we all know, attorneys are specialised in specific fields and so its clear many trainees are not exposed to all fields. It is difficult to be in the real world.

        This does bring another issue, would those in electronics be at an advantage today as they clearly deal with these claims all the time. This is the first time I've been asked to amend CII claims.

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      4. But it is not fair to just put it on a paper - there should be a proper syllabus of what could be tested so that you can practice.

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      5. I agree. As papers A and B have been moved to be aimed at both chemists and non-chemist's, it did seem to be more in favour of the non-chemist.

        It takes a chemist so much more time to understand what is going on simply because they are not used to reading such claim. This is the first time of the combined papers that I felt was not designed for all candidates from all backgrounds.

        At least give a bit more guidance in the letter. It just said client says this feature will overcome the Examiner's objections. I would trust the client because I have no idea how else to amend it.

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    5. I thought paper A was bad enough yesterday with contradictory statements in the client letter but paper B was just as bad if not worse today.

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      1. Its weird because this has never happened before on papers A or B in any other years where the certain phrases/words seemed to be intentionally (or not) been selected to cause confusion.

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      2. There was some extensive discussions yesterday on Delta Patents blog on Paper A as to whether the EPO intentionally added conflicting statements into paper A. It is very harsh.

        Are they doing it on purpose?

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      3. I have not gone through A or B yet, but in general they do not try and confuse you.

        A is supposed to a letter from a client, so there is often confusion about what to do with the statements. The client is the technical expert, and all the technical statements are true. But if the client says that something must be claimed or is essential for the product or process, you have to weigh up the information given. So a client can say conflicting things.
        There have been plenty of cases where phrases are read differently by different people, and that was unintentional. If enough people read it wrong or different, they may take it into account in the marking.
        They try to be as clear as possible, but they do sometimes choose phrases or words that are easier to translate. They are supposed to be synonyms, but some synonyms can have a slightly different meaning.

        So sometimes it is on purpose, sometimes not.

        However, if a lot of people follow the wrong clues, then they will usually minimise the reduction in marks. But if the claims are not novel, they consider that as very serious.

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      4. I think D2 confused me as well by saying the columns are filled with ions and hence I thought there were no gaps. But then thinking about it now, there can be gaps. That did throw me off.

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      5. D2 of paper A I was referring to.

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      6. That's the problem with reading things online. Some words or phrases can be very easily missed

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    6. I too didn't like paper A and found it very difficult.

      The papers so far have been pretty hardcore. I think there is going to be a very low pass rate this year (perhaps it is their intention to do so).

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    7. I'm thinking of booking at early slot next year at 2022. These papers this year have been bloody difficult.

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    8. The level of difficulty of the EQE exam by far surpasses the knowledge and skills that are required for a patent attorney to be fit for practice in real life. One could wonder if the goal of the EQE is in fact to test a person's ability to practice or perhaps stop others from entering an elite club of qualified attorney (perhaps with higher salaries). The latter would not be in the interest of the general public. The disciplinary boards only have a limited power, so how would one be able to raise the issue of the EQE being too difficult? Could it be raised with the administrative council?

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      1. You can raise it with your national patent attorney association or the epi.
        They have to shorten the pieces anyway so they can keep doing it online - it would also be good to consider how relevant it is to daily work, and especially after the Pre-Exam, there is a lot of overlap in what is being tested. And overlap in the legal preparation.
        For example:
        Pre-Exam: only legal questions, covering procedural and substantive law. Drop the claims analysis (covered extensively in main exam). Also don't need D1 anymore. Could have some multiple choice, some long.
        ME: keep A and D2 (could also add infringement to D2)
        ME: B is a ridiculous paper, with a client giving you claims. Go back to the old format. Possibly combine with A.
        ME: C - cut in half (there is so much repetition in the attacks!) and add a proper infringement analysis (how can this not be tested)

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      2. ... and EU designs and Trademarks would also be good. It is ridiculous that patent attorneys are not really trained in this at European level (not a focus, but enough to know the basics).

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      3. Thanks Peter for your input and continuous support. This year's exam has made it very clear that there is a need for an organization that can lobby for the interest of the candidates. Hopefully the epi will be supportive.

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      4. The EQE is organised jointly by the epi and EPO, so they are fully involved at all board levels and in all committees.
        One part of the EPO is usually responsible for the giving the exam and collecting all the papers. This year, the epi were heavily involved behind the scenes, so they are also fully aware of all the issues.
        However, it does no harm for people to raise the issues with the epi so that they receive more input.

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    9. I feeling awful today, it was a very difficult and strange paper but thought I got the main amendment to argue inventive step. But, in a frantic rush, I seem to left alot of formatting errors in my amended claims, and didn't amend the claims that much either. This was really due to time pressures that I had to move on (I had a strict time schedule). Even then novelty and IS were massively rushed.

      I agree with others that Paper B was not for a 3.5 hours paper. Too long and complex to deal with everything that was thrown at you.

      As for paper A - it was a tricky paper too. Not feeling great any of them so far this week. Waited 2 years for all of this as well.

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      1. You really can't predict how the papers will be marked, especially this year.

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      2. Pete. Thanks for comforting many of us candidates especially this year. Been such a tough year altogether.

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    10. I do wonder if the EPO are pushing what they think they can get away with for the online exams so that it can maybe help them prepare for future years. It seems that they have pushed it too far this year with these papers.

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      1. The communication has been pretty poor and it would have helped if someone had explained what was going on earlier (the first EPO webinar was very good).
        They decided to make it possible to take the exams in any location, including your own home (that turned out to be 100% correct with all the current restrictions).
        Apparently, WISEflow and LockDown Browser was the only suitable solution available. They then had to fit the existing exams into that system and set everything else up.
        And also realise that the exams take something like 1.5 years to complete and be fine tuned (not full-time - most of them are volunteers). And they are often surprised by where candidates have problems.
        It is also very hard to split or to take a piece out of an existing exam - it can sometimes make it even more ambiguous.
        But they will compensate by taking it into account in the marking (as they always have done). So the marking is based on the performance of many candidates. Some mistakes are not forgiven (or heavily marked down), but many others are considered acceptable and get equal (or almost equal) marks. These are not all published in the examiners report.

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      2. One does hope so this year.

        As an example, I had no time to fully deal with the amendments section in paper B yesterday. I decided it was better to move on to other sections and argue or provide basis why some of the client amendments work, so hopefully clawed back some marks for skipping over amendment section. I still ran out of time completely though.

        One of the biggest issue was the horrendous formatting issues of copying over amended claims to the text editor. In the mocks, I had to deal with it but there was sufficient time for it. NOT yesterday.

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      3. I have never known an exam board that really messes with peoples careers or mental state as much as the EPO have this year with the EQE. Stress levels through the rough. I couldn't even have a proper sleep after the D paper from shaking most of the day after that exam. And, as for last night, tossing and turning with worry - not good for the body or mind. They don't seem to care about the knock on effects their incompetence has on candidates - it is not right and seriously needs to be discussed this year as a key point when epi and EPO members have open discussions. It is not just candidates that are affected, it is also their families too.
        2021 - one of the most shocking EQE years if not the most shocking to date and doubtful will be the last. Rant over and apologies.

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      4. No problem with the ranting. It is a professional qualification exam, so that is how it should be experienced.
        The EQE is organised jointly by the epi and EPO, so they are fully involved at all board levels and in all committees.
        One part of the EPO is usually responsible for the giving the exam and collecting all the papers. This year, the epi were heavily involved behind the scenes, so they are also fully aware of all the issues.

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      5. Thanks Pete - surely epi would have clearly noted and understood that the format and arrangement was not feasible, what was epi's involvement regarding the new layout etc., surely there must have been issues raised during the organisation and if not, I'd be surprised to find out why etc. if they are to support candidates.
        Been quite a frustrating week tbh and I just don't think the current arrangements are suitable for online format. Tbh, I don't believe they even adapted it for online. C paper for example, too many documents, one less document or one less claim (claim 6 was split in 3, which I missed).
        The organisation this year has been well under par, we'd expect more from the EPO and EQE organisers.

        That said, you've been a tremendous help and support to candidatws during this tough period, kudos to you, very much appreciated my end.

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    11. The split of paper C tomorrow will be interesting. I had so much trouble about it during the mocks. It was the same for paper B in that the current format simply does not work well online. I gave them feedback on this but nothing was changed. I am in favour of online exams but its clear current format of B doesn't work well. Formatting is horrendous and then flicking between amended claims, office action, client letter was unbearable. There will be alot of mistakes. Off course they decided to completely change direction of this paper too which adds to the complexity.

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    12. I know under exam conditions, you are prone to make more mistakes but these set of papers have brought out the worse. I've made so many mistakes everywhere in every paper. Never like this during the mocks.

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