Friday, March 5, 2021

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 👍. 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 👍👍👍

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 👍👍👍
  • 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.👍👍👍
  • 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)

    5. Paper B (comments from the Telegram groups. See also under the A 2021 post)

    • Mock1 B had 9 online-only pages, 4 printable page. Mock 2 had 9 online only pages, 6 printable pages. B 2021 had 13 online-only pages, 10 printable pages, 3 prior art docs. 😱
      • It was promised in the first webinar that the exams had been adapted to the online format - this does not seem adapted.
      • In the EN version, unusual words like "plethora" were used, forcing non-native speakers to grab their dictionaries to figure out if they were technical, or just part of the story
        • normally non-native speakers are also involved in testing the exams
        • this seems unnecessary - in DE they just used "Vielzahl" and FR: "multitude"
        • some also were unsure about the exact meaning of some of the technical words like "manure" and "pupate"
    • Many people did not even get close to the end. Many felt it was a 5hr exam, comparing it to a C Exam in complexity. It could be that there was a shortcut to cut down the work, but if so, many people missed it. The application as filed was pretty  long at 7 pages.
    • Many lost time figuring out the claims, which meant they had no time to do the inventive step argumentation properly (or even at all). Both method and apparatus claims were included.
    • (mild spoiler) Many comments that it involved Computer Implemented Inventions, and that this is a specialist area.
      • I don't agree - software inventions are found in all technologies now, so all professionals need to know about it. 
      • And no-one can have failed to notice the effort by the EPO in the last years to improve the Guidelines and to even provide a special CII index. But no time during an exam to read it if you don't know it.
      • But I still need to look at what they expected here.
    • Several new kinds of issues, not seen in earlier exams
    • Missing references in prior art D1 - a feature in the drawing was not labelled, and a ref number was used which was not described
    • Copy/paste did not work at all (similar to Mock1- everything needed to be reformatted before it could be used in the answers. 
      • This is particularly annoying and time consuming when trying to make a claim set to show the amendments.
    • Formatting errors: on screen, the clients amendments (deletions and additions) were not displayed properly. So candidates had to visually check by repeatedly switching between the tabs (spot the differences!)
      • of course, no one can make a screenshot. In the Compendium pdf's, it looks fine.
      • Maria Uldall commented: It is  also in the Compendium. Try to compare claim 4 point b as filed with claim 5 point b as suggested amended. You will see that the latter has spraying water added. This is not in bold and not referenced in the letter either. I actually lost valuable time due to this because I wondered whether it was in fact an omitted bold formatting of a suggested amendment or if it was meant to have been in the claims as filed.

    19 comments:

    1. Keeping my fingers crossed 🤞🤞🤞:
      - Put your TAB and WINKEY caps back :-)
      - 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
      - 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 ;-)

      - 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.

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    2. Alexander BoganderMarch 5, 2021 at 9:36 PM

      Thanks for all of your help Pete, you've been great!
      I think you deserve a well earned rest too.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Thanks Pete

      I felt like this year is the hardest set ever, from papers D, A,B and C - especially the last 3. Very difficult!

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    4. I read the B paper again, and still dont understand many things in the paper. It was really weird. Have a look at below.

      In parag. 12 it said:

      [012] In Fig. 2, the container (1) has a standard moisture detector (11) with a display (12) and also a water spraying device (13) connected to a water container (14).

      And then one parag. later, in parag. 14 , still the same embodiment:

      [014] Preferably, the compost container has a standard moisture detector (11) with a display (12).

      Is it optional or not to have a moisture detector (11) with a display (12) ?

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      1. It was not only lenghty paper, but also very unclear in terms of context...There are other unclarities like the above one. On top of that, client was not as like usual paper B client, asked for many impossible things.

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      2. "Preferably" usually implies that it is optional, but advantageous in some way. Or likely to be sold like that. As no advantage is explained, [14] does not seem to add anything over [12].

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    5. "software inventions are found in all technologies now, so all professionals need to know about it" - I can't say I agree completely with this.

      My subject background is in the chemical and pharmaceutical field. Incidentally, I have also worked in research at the very cutting edge of chem (enabling technologies, IoT and continuous flow chemistry).

      I agree on a fundamental level that all professionals should know about CII.

      I disagree that software inventions can be found in all technologies, at the very least at a point where such inventions are commonly seen by all attorneys. One only has to look towards the recent publication by the EPO in Dec 2020 on "Patents and the Fourth Industrial Revolution" (https://www.epo.org/service-support/publications.html?pubid=222#tab3) to see evidence of this. On page 37 of the study, none of the top 25 applicants in 4IR technologies are bio/chemical companies. I think it would be non-contentious to say that every single one of the top 25 applicants would be considered as being companies in the "electronics" field.

      Furthermore, in my personal experience, I have never seen a CII claim in the chemical field. I have very rarely seen some in the medtech field. In addition, having worked at the research end of things, I also do not believe that this will be coming to fruition in the chemical field any time soon - most innovation at this point in time is still very much blue-sky.

      As such, I very much believe that CII still remains a specialist area.

      In this respect, I think it would be fair to say that bio/chemical attorneys are unfairly disadvantaged when presented with having to amend such a claim. Most of us simply will not see these types of claim in day to day practice and we MUST waste valuable time in finding the relevant portion of the Guidelines and working out a suitable amendment/response strategy, for potentially the first time ever.

      I would draw an analogy with drafting and/or amending a "compound for use" claim. Had such a claim come up in Paper A or B, I am certain that my electronics colleagues will be up in arms about it (in fact, we saw this in Mock 2 DII, where compound for use claims did come up).

      Notwithstanding the above, "knowing" about it and competency at drafting and/or amending claims are very different things. I think bio/chem attorneys should certainly be aware of developments in CII. Testing competency with CII in an EQE exam, however, particularly when there are so many other aspects to be tested (more so in the monster Paper B set this year) I believe is wholly inappropriate.

      I would also flag that in practice, if I needed to draft/amend a CII claim, I would have sought guidance from my more experienced colleagues in the matter. Under UK practice, had I not done so, I would probably be in breach of the IPReg Code of Conduct!

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      Replies
      1. I am curious - what does it say in the IPReg Code of Conduct that covers this?

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      2. If a complaint is raised by a client/IPReg, this would most likely fall under breach of Rule 4 - Competence.

        "Regulated persons shall carry out their professional work with due skill, care and diligence and with proper regard for the technical standards expected of them.

        A regulated person should only undertake work within his expertise or competence."

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      3. Just another addendum... IPReg does take this type of breach seriously, the possible sanctions including removal of advocacy rights or even being struck off the (UK) register. As mentioned in the guidelines section of the Rules of Conduct:

        "4.5 Inappropriate exercise of litigation and/or advocacy rights is a matter which is taken very seriously by IPReg. If a registered person is found to have used rights inappropriately this can result in severe disciplinary sanctions including removal of rights to conduct litigation and/or advocacy and removal of a registered person’s name from the register of patent attorneys and/or trade mark attorneys."

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      4. You are correct - you should not do the work if you are not competent or do not have the expertise to carry it out.
        But this is subjective. You can also take steps to increase your competence and expertise by studying the issue, discussing with colleagues, and having them check it. And if you do it more frequently, then you will not have to ask anymore.
        I am sure they also say something about "continuous education" as well in the regulations.
        In the end, as a professional, you can decide only to take work that you feel completely comfortable with, but that does not match well with rapidly changing technology. And you will eventually lose any client that is changing their technology or wants to do something different. I can assure you that most clients get very irritated when you are their point of contact and you keep referring them to someone else (and they get double billing) - they expect you to sort it out and take responsibility. Or they will eventually go to someone else.
        If you work for a big firm and for big clients, you can often get away with having a team for everything where everyone can bill, but SME clients will not accept it unless absolutely necessary.

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      5. 4.5 is referring to misleading about whether you are qualified to act before the institution or court. That is lying about your professional qualifications and can be objectively checked - this is doing something that you are legally not allowed to do.
        That is quite different to the discussion about competence and experience. There is only one European Patent Attorney - there are no restrictions on the technologies covered in the qualification.

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    6. I totally agree with you

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    7. I also have a background in chemistry and I completely concur. I'm quite certain that I will never work woth CII on my life and that knowing about CII and being able to draft or amend CII claims are two different kind of shoes (I believe that every candidate understood that this questions aimed at CII but its about the details). This part of the exam was certainly not equally accessible to all candidates. As noted above, I am sure that engineers etc would also not be keen to see an exam dealing with the specifics of second medical use claims and dosage regimens in an otherwise already difficult and long B part.

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      Replies
      1. Okay, I see your point. The knowledge being tested can either come from the 2 yrs practical experience (which can be a narrow with regards to subject matter and actual drafting and amending) and preparing for the exam (only based on doing old exams)
        Then the real problem is the EQE regularly introducing new things not tested before.
        It is unheard of in any other exam not to have an official syllabus of what you need to know. The closest thing to a syllabus is the Guide to Preparation, but that only mentions Computer Programs under the legal part.

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    8. What is the proper way of collecting the flaws of this B paper in a professional way and complaining/objecting officially ?

      I am just afraid that writing our concerns in various blogs will not help us in any way :((

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      Replies
      1. It can have some effect, but you have a little control.
        1) As described in the post above, you can report issues in conducting the exam and things outside your control that affected your performance.
        Formally the deadlines have passed, but you can still try submitting explaining why you were not able to submit earlier, or these are additional details regarding your earlier e-mail. Important is that they get the feedback before they complete your individual marking.
        2) Make sure your mentor is aware of all the issues
        3) Raise the issues with your national patent attorney association
        4) Raise the issues with the epi. Even if you are not a (student) member, you are trying to become a member.
        Then try and put it behind you. The marking this year is very unpredictable, so you have to hope for the best. Mentally, it will not be good to keep reliving it until June.

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      2. .... I also forgot: if you can stand it, discussing the solutions and the vagueness on the blogs that have that (at least on the DeltaPatents blog where they have detailed suggested answers) can help to highlight ambiguities. Particularly for Pre-Exam.
        But only do this if you accept that the marking has not yet been finalised, it will not upset you more.

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