- 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.
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).