EQE - exam advice, e-EQE environment

EQE Equality = Missione Impossibile?

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“Your mission, Etna, if you accept it, is to pass parts ABC of the European Qualifying Exam within two attempts. Your dreams of success will collide with mind-bending riddles, highly specialized technology and deadly traps, raising the bar beyond reason, year after year. In an entirely foreign language, you must gather the scattered pieces of a <Possible Solution>, which hold the key to your future career. The time given is a fraction of what you would have in real-life. This WISEflow message will crash your computer in five seconds.”

Unfortunately, this is not fiction. Unpredictable technical problems, overwhelming workload, and specialized technical fields have turned the ABC patent attorney qualification exams into an uphill battle. The chances of success have significantly plummeted for well-prepared candidates due to increased difficulty. With each failure comes another year of postponed careers, leaving countless lives in limbo. The impact is most apparent in the C-exam, where yearly promises of adaptation to the online two-part format (Part 1: 3 hrs, Break: 45 mins, Part 2: 3 hrs) have remained unfulfilled.

Previously, the D-exam posed the greatest challenge, demanding extensive study and representing 65% of the entire EQE. However, the tables have turned, with the C-exam now acting as the main obstacle, obstructing candidates from progressing further in their professional lives. This issue only worsens with time. Even the A- and B-exams seem to be competing for equal importance, an odd focus considering the absence of mandatory continuous education within the European Patent Institute (epi). The detailed exam knowledge fades within months, leaving only the minimum necessary for daily work. Moreover, the EQE fails to adequately cover infringement, requiring additional national attorney courses or patent litigation certificates to be truly “fit to practice.” The A- and B-Exams were originally designed for candidates with just two years of experience, so they should not be as complex and challenging as they currently are.

The best advice offered to ABC resitters is to practice more old exams and hope for a more straightforward test. However, as the exam content becomes increasingly unpredictable and specialized, full preparation becomes an insurmountable task. Hopes and prayers cannot serve as a strategy for professional qualification.

Non-native speakers face an even more demanding journey, battling slower reading speeds, typing limitations, and limited vocabulary. While patent attorneys must work with an EPO language, it is 2023, and advanced translation tools are readily available. If there is an undisclosed language requirement, candidates deserve to know, allowing them a fair chance to prepare. Alternatively, a separate language exam could be introduced, focusing the EQE exams on substance. The current official silence on this issue worsens the damage. Complaints from non-native speakers find few supporters, leaving many hesitant to voice their concerns publicly. The profession benefits from the diversity of attorneys who can communicate fluently with inventors in their native languages.

Since 2013, the C-exam has been designed for a theoretical 5-hour duration. Compensations were introduced in subsequent years, including additional time for non-native speakers and a two-part online format. However, rather than maintaining the original scope, the exam has grown exponentially (see the table below which uses IT candidates as a representative group of non-native speakers). The number of words to read has increased by 45%, accompanied by stricter conditions. The number of words to read is only one of the factors affecting passing rats, but we note that some of the highest success rates for IT residents (assumed to be IT speakers because no other statistics were available) were in 2013 when the exam was the shortest, and in 2017, when the exam was only 10% longer than in 2013, but an extra 30 minutes were provided for non-native speakers.

In the current online format, all Part 1 claims must be fully addressed within the first three hours, leaving no time to spare. However, the prior art is not split, so ALL annexes also need to be read / analyzed during Part 1. And no marks are given during Part 2 for an attack on Part 1 claims. The workload in Part 1 becomes overwhelming, allowing no room for thoughtful consideration. In 2013, it was a 5-hour exam, and you could divide your time yourself. In 2023, you had to do 60-70% of the whole C-exam in the first 3 hours in one pass. Yes – prior art can be scanned for relevance, but this is very difficult for non-native speakers, and the C annexes are artificial and infamous for hiding relevant comments in irrelevant places. The online format aggravates the situation, preventing candidates from printing claims and lacking a fully functional side-by-side view.

Additionally, technical specialization has become increasingly challenging. In earlier years, the exam featured familiar devices, but now candidates face underwater energy storage and road racing pedals, complete with technical terms that pose a challenge for non-native speakers. The complexity and specialization of claimed invention is only one of the factors affecting the passing rate, but we note that some of the highest success rates for IT residents were in 2013 (airbag module), 2017 (corkscrew), 2019 (steam iron) and 2022 (hybrid yarn). The alternating focus between heavy electromechanical and heavy chemical subjects in A and B exams further reduces the chances of passing to once in two years.

Technical issues with WISEflow, the online platform, introduce further unpredictability. Even with fully tested systems, cameras and microphones malfunction, preview windows become blurry, and legal references go missing. Software crashes are not anomalies but rather recurring features. WISEflow continuously scans for suspicious events, often leading to self-induced crashes triggered by trivial warnings, such as low toner levels. Restarting WISEflow requires invigilator assistance, resulting in significant time loss of at least 20 minutes per incident. Considering the already overwhelming workload, unexpected technical issues make success virtually impossible.

Is EQE equality of opportunity attainable? Non-native speakers accept their disadvantage, but the requirements should not remain an enigma, unveiled only during the exam itself. Candidates deserve to know what is expected of them beforehand. Passing rates can be adjusted with adapted marking, but non-native speakers struggle to cope with the excessive reading and typing demands, leaving them unable to provide complete answers like their native-speaking counterparts. They just seek a fair opportunity to demonstrate their “fit-to-practice” abilities. Exam style, language use, and length should be consistent (max. 4500 words) and reasonable. Simplified English, German, and French should be used as standard. The ABC technical areas should be accessible to all candidates without additional explanations. In 2024, the C-exam must consist of two small and fully independent cases.

Moreover, thorough testing of WISEflow by representative non-native speakers is necessary. Testing solely with Dutch, Danish, and Swedish individuals does not accurately reflect the challenges faced by a wider range of candidates, such as those from Finland, Italy, and Turkey. Alternative online test software will likely present similar crashing issues. Implementing national testing centers, such as those at national patent offices, would provide candidates with reliable networks and infrastructure, significantly reducing the stress associated with taking the EQE.

“The Silent Battle” rages on, and we urge the EQE Examination Board to take decisive public action and address the systemic issues plaguing the exams. The quest for equality and fairness demands transparency, reasonable demands on candidates, and tailored solutions that empower candidates rather than leaving them adrift in a shark-filled sea of doubt.

Recent Evolution of the C Exam:

These statistics are included to quantify the experiences of many that have contacted me. The “non-native” group is very diverse – the best we can do is “Nationality”, which includes a large group who were born and educated in that country. “Nationality” was not available in the past, so I included the “Residency” as well. The disadvantage is shown by comparing their “pass + CF rate” with the same “pass + CF rate” for all candidates. Italy was chosen because it has a reasonable group size, and most Italians did not grow up learning English to a very high degree.

YearLengthIn-person / onlineNr of wordsAnnexesClaimsSubjectPass + CF (all) x totalPass + CF (IT resident) x totalPass + CF (IT national) x total
2009 and earlier6 hrsin-person——-——————————————————
20106 hrsin-person473056Pressurized container50.5%
x 1495
x 88
20116 hrsin-person430068Heat exchanger50.5%
x 1487
x 78
20126 hrsin-person422567Multi-layered patch42.1%
x 1482
x 78
20135 hrsin-person427055Airbag module55.0%
x 1190
x 69
20145 hrsin-person489066Razor cartridge43.9%
x 1080
x 51
20155 hrsin-person483066Snowboard damper48.2%
x 1084
x 51
20165 hrsin-person505076Cooling device48.0%
x 1133
x 51
x 67
20175.5 hrsin-person463067Corkscrew62.6%
x 1134
x 53
x 68
20185.5 hrsin-person610066Milking machine58.2%
x 1077
x 47
x 68
20195.5 hrsin-person556067Steam iron59.2%
x 1043
x 45
x 63
2020     <no EQE>   
2021(1) 3 hrsWISEflow560053Underwater energy storage   
2021(2) 3 hrsWISEflow60805+ 3Underwater energy storage56.8%
x 1852
x 81
43.2 %
x 118
2022(1) 3 hrsWISEflow512052Hybrid yarn   
2022(2) 3 hrsWISEflow57805+ 4Hybrid yarn61.2%
x 1400
x 76
x 107
2023(1) 3 hrsWISEflow540063Road racing pedal   
2023(2) 3 hrsWISEflow62207+ 4Road racing pedal   


In 2009 and earlier, a Glossary was provided with translations of technical terms into non-native languages with each exam. It is not clear why they stopped making it from 2010.

“Annexes” in 2009 and earlier were not always provided in En, Fr and Ge, requiring candidates to read 2x official languages. This was stopped in 2010.

“Nr of words” is not accurate – it is based on Word conversions of the original Compendium pdfs, excluding the opposition form. But all word counts have been measured in the same way to allow comparison.

“Pass” includes compensable fails to give a better estimation of the real chance of passing.

“Length” was changed in 2013 from 6 hours to 5 hours to keep the total number of exam hours the same when the Pre-Exam was introduced. The time was reduced by abolishing the requirement to deal with legal issues.

“Length” was changed in 2017 from 5 hours to 5.5 hours. (Decision Supervisory Board 17 Nov 2016). The extra 30 mins added to time to make each exam to help non-native speakers. The intention was that the exams would stay the same (doable in 5 hours), but the extra time is purely to allow a slower rate of reading and writing by non-native speakers.

“Length” was changed in 2021 from 5.5 hours to 6 hours. C exam schedule was split into Part 1: 180 mins (3 hrs), Break: 45 mins and Part 2: 180 mins (3 hrs). The intention was that the exams would stay the same (doable in 5 hours, doable in 5.5 hrs for non-native speakers), but the extra time is to compensate for splitting the exam into 2 parts. Note that the claims provided in Part 1 can ONLY be attacked in the 180 mins of Part 1 after reading the exam.

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20 replies on “EQE Equality = Missione Impossibile?”

Hi, thank you for your article, you make some very good points regarding the need for a considerate approach to providing equitable treatment. In addition to your suggestions of two small independent cases, simplified language and length, would e.g. a Google Translate window in Wiseflow be sensible?

One thing I’d like to see is an admission that while the online exams were obviously critical during the pandemic and very helpful now by minimising unnecessary travel and expense, they cannot be as flexible as in-person exams. Wiseflow can and does go wrong, in ways that wouldn’t happen or would be easy to fix if the exam was in person. It isn’t fair that career progression gets delayed for circumstances outside of your control.

As such, the corrective measures when things can and do go wrong need to be revised. They should be clear, rigorous and fair. I understand that a lot of time and effort is spent preparing the papers, but given what’s at stake, I think that a resit-paper is sensible, set e.g. 2 weeks after the main paper, for people who experience significant computer issues.

And I say this as someone who had crippling computer issues in 2022’s Paper C, and had to take it on the chin.

– I lost about 30 minutes of exam time while I spoke with Wiseflow’s IT support,
– I didn’t get a break between sections as I was trying again with IT,
– I had to do the exam without any print-outs so couldn’t annotate, compare or quickly access anything, and
– I lost likely another ~45 minutes to two panic attacks due to knowing I would be unlikely to pass and had thus wasted months of evenings and weekends away from my young family, only to have to do it all again next year due to delayed career progression.

None of that would have happened if it was in person.

For that experience, my paper was marked as though I had had a fair attempt at it (?!?), and based on my understandably low grade of 34, I was awarded one additional mark. I had passed the other papers and only needed a compensatory pass. I could have appealed, but was advised that due to the difference in marks, I would be highly unlikely to be successful.

Gabriele Honeckersays:

Thanks for the reminder on the online-specific problems.

Actually, since there is no logistics in terms of renting huge conference centers (or similar), in principle it should be possible to have two exams per year. The technical problem due to server overload should then also decrease as the number of logged in candidates would be split over two sessions per year.

But that would of course require a strategy of the exam committees on how to design exams appropriately. Which, at least for paper C, does not seem the case right now.

It can all be arranged if it is given a priority. There is some support within the epi for national test centers, but someone needs to arrange it.
The fairest is to give all candidates a choice – a national test center (which can be charged) or do it online.
Especially when the trend is now to introduce more and more extreme rules that need to be complied with online. These rules used to be published in the REE, but now they are just added unannounced to the FAQs, so it is impossible to prepare for.
The invigilators are even taking decisions during the exam to not let candidates late in to the exam, or to not to give more time following technical problems, because “they could be cheating”.

That is a horrible story, but unfortunately, you are not alone. A translation window would be a good idea, but It should not be considered necessary. I am afraid that the Committees will then use it as an excuse to be completely free about the language they use.
You cannot rely on the machine-translation tools to be 100 percent accurate, and being a patent attorney means that you need to deal with the very slight change of meaning which can occur when synonyms are used. During the stress of the exam, it is very hard to figure out subtle differences, especially if you realise that it is important for technical identity.
For example, in the Pre-Exam many years ago, they described something as a “table leaf” (tafelblatt). When you look “leaf” up in a normal dictionary, most of the definitions do not make a lot of sense. But they could have just used “table top” or “table sheet” or “table plate”.
In normal situations, it would be almost impossible to bridge so many marks in appeal. But some marks have been awarded to compensate for time loss due to technical issues, and that formula is still being developed.

Zsofia Pintz (Fillun)says:

“The best advice offered to ABC resitters is to practice more old exams and hope for a more straightforward test. However, as the exam content becomes increasingly unpredictable and specialized, full preparation becomes an insurmountable task. Hopes and prayers cannot serve as a strategy for professional qualification.”

Thank you Pete POLLARD for this article and for supporting EQE candidates!

My best trick for the 2-part Paper C is to NOT read all annexes in the first part. This is how I managed to almost finish my exam back in 2021 (the first e-EQE) and get more than 80 marks as a non-native candidate.

This would obviously not be a good advice in real life, but it is a good tip for the online, 2-part Paper C.

If you want to prepare for this stupid exam with me: https://lnkd.in/dm_twgvT

Thanks, Zsofia Pintz. Congratulations! I have heard that tip as well, but it is very hard to teach this. It depends on the candidate, their mental attitude, their confidence and whether they are resitters. Do you think that this “skill” is being deliberately tested?.

Zsofia Pintz (Fillun)says:

Copied from LinkedIn:
I didn’t think that this skill was deliberately tested… My idea was simply that they haven’t tested these past few Paper C exams properly either in WISEflow or with non-native candidates under time pressure.
Let’s hope Gabriele Honecker is right and there is at least a rational purpose behind it…

Maria Luisa Iarossisays:

Copied from LinkedIN:
Yes, Pete POLLARD I have spent my lunch break looking up words in the dictionary, realizing in the end thai I didn’t know their meaning even Italian (precisely because they belong to a specific technical sector) and reading the documents.
I hope that the esaminati in committee realizes and somehow compensates for the difficulties of this paper C, and above all, for the incorrect distribution of information between C1 and C2.
Otherwise, the passing rate of this year will be extremely low.”

Zuzanna Kowalkiewiczsays:

Copied from LinkedIn:
“After sitting this year’s paper C, I asked myself the question what kind of practice is actually testing the paper? Why this practice is so far removed from the daily practice? Should I have gasped books such as “Mechanics for Dummies”, “Electronics from Scratch” to be better prepared for the exam?
Thanks for sharing the food for thought!”

The post is not just for “non-native” speakers. The spotlight chosen is to highlight the issues that all candidates will face to some degree, and that these issues are getting worse each year. But many in this group are hit the worst – a lot of “non-natives” will NEVER pass the current C exam, and B is heading in that direction. I don’t think that is acceptable for a profession that advertises itself as “pan-european”, and where trainees are competent enough in real-life to do the work of patent attorneys.
All resitters also have a confidence problem – they are afraid to take any risks, so they are even more likely to be overwhelmed and to be blocked by any small inconsistencies in the exam. And most patent attorneys are somewhere on a “control freak” spectrum (usually in the medium to high range 😉), so they often get distracted by small details. And during the stress of the exam, your brain does not work as well as it normally does, turning native speakers into non-native speakers.
So, all candidates will benefit if these “non-native” issues are addressed fairly.

So even if you are a native (or close to native) speaker, you are not guaranteed an easy time. During the exam, it does not matter if you are the only one with a problem, or everyone has the same problem you have to put yourself in the best position for you to pass during each exam. And you want to pass first time because your confidence is sky-high and you are more open to taking risks, such as cutting corners, or skipping parts of the exam.

I agree with this general approach as well. In the back of your mind, remember ABC & D2 are exams, so they give you all the pieces you need. During the stress of the exam, you may struggle to understand the invention anyway. During the stress of the exam, you will not be able to judge how strong an argument is, so if you have something, include it. For example, distinguishing features must have an explicit technical effect in the exam, otherwise you cannot generate the argumentation you need. So if you have a piece with a technical effect on B making you novel, or on C when attacking inventive step, that is probably the right piece.

Your goal is to generate as much answer as possible for them to mark within the time available. Look at the marking tables in the examiners report, know where most of the marks are, and spend your time accordingly. Even if you you have the right answer, you will not pass if you dont provide enough “argumentation”. They never award marks for things that you had in your head but did not type in. If you have technical difficulties, they can award a compensation, but that is based on a very limited extrapolation from the answer that you hand-in.

The goal of practicing ABC & D2 exams is to develop the “gut” feeling about each exam by analysing with your “brain” how you did the exam and how close your answer is to what they want. During the exam, you need to switch more to “gut” feeling. D1 is a little similar in that you are trying to figure out what the question is about, but almost all questions are new, so you only will recognise part of them, and you need to use your time precisely.

On A, you need independent claims probably in each category (product, process, use) and as many dependent claims as possible. At least be novel. Claim functionally.
On B, you need novelty and something that looks like an inventive step argument support for each independent claim to pass.. And the support for the amendments. You are defending claims, so if you can find something that can be used, type it in. At least be novel.
For C, you need to attack all independent claims and the “unusual claim” attacks. Do every novelty attack you see. There are no negative marks, unless you contradict yourself. You are attacking the claims, so if you find something that can be used, type it in.

During the exam, you will run into things that you need to figure out – is that the same feature or different, is priority valid etc. This is where the technical understanding is usually needed. But if you cannot figure it out quickly, you need to find a way out. It is perfectly fine to include assumptions as a note to the marker about why you picked an option. By being explicit, it can also help you decide which way to go.

First consider whether it is a side-issue, or less important for marks – if so, make a note for yourself and leave it to the end. If it is a main issue, then the exam is usually set up so that the answer is 80/20, so go with the 80%. If it is 50/50, then there are marks for argumentation. If you are still unsure, pick one, explain any assumptions, and generate at least one answer. They often award marks to alternative answers based on the fact that a lot of people handed them in.

Avatar photoDaniel X. Thomassays:

Having heard at the last CEIPI tutor’s meeting how the EQE is meant to evolve in the next future, the hope for national testing centres might remain for ever a mere hope. It is not only a question of organisation, but also a question of costs and the aim of the EPO appears to clearly reduce the costs of the EQE. Involvement of examiners in the EQE has been reduced as well.

It is further clear that the EQE will never go back to in-person examination. It would not ty up with the unbridled digitisation underway at the EPO.

One should also not forget that the EPO is one customer of WiseFlow among plenty of others. This means that an adaptation of WiseFlow to the necessity of the EQE is as well a hope and might not really materialise.

At least the disciplinary board of appeal has shown some sympathy with candidates having experienced IT problems during the exam. It will never take over marking, but a least it has set aside a number of decisions of the examination board and requested a new look at the candidate’s papers.

One should not forget that the aim of the EPO was originally to completely base the EQE on multiple choice questionnaires as it is presently the case for the pre-exam. MCQ are very easy to correct and allow massive savings for the EPO.

It thanks to the members of the profession involved in the working group setting up a new EQE, that a fully digitised EQE has been avoided. There will still be some place for free text replies. It is not clear how much this will be.

One advice to those able to sit the full EQE in the next two to three years is to sit and pass the EQE as quickly as possible. There should be transitional provisions, but nobody has an idea what those will look like.

Thanks for your comments.
I think that the new EQE proposals are theoretically an improvement, I don’t see how they will ever be implemented by the current organisation. After 3 years, they have still not split the C exam properly into 2 parts, or properly adapted the AB exams to the online format. The number of translation errors has clearly increased. There are no limits on volume or subject matter in ABC. Worst is that nobody anymore feels responsible for a fair, consistent and uniform quality of the EQE as experienced by candidates.
It seems as if the epi ABC and D2 committees are still deliberately making exams for the old in-person exams, which the EPO has to provide in the agreed online format. Pre-exam and D1 have been adapted. I don’t understand why all parties in the current EQE organisation are tolerating this conflict when it is making it almost impossible for candidates to properly prepare. Resitters are completely derailed by this randomness. And a larger group of non-native speakers has no chance of passing. when they would have passed 10 years ago.
I am a native-speaker, and I would not be able to pass the current C exam. I estimate that I would probably need at least 2 attempts at the A exam and B-exams because of the electromechanic / chemistry alternation.

I also think that purely MCQ is not ideal, but I think you may be a little premature in predicting that “a fully digitised EQE has been avoided”. Without a budget and a proper organisation, the project is unlikely to timely deliver the intended quality. This is a general weakness when relying on an organisation and network of volunteers, however dedicated and well-meaning they are. And if “Plan A” cannot be realised, then the fully-digitised “Plan B” (read-to-go with a clear budget, timeline and organisation) will be implemented.

And a fully MCQ exam is not necessarily bad. I don’t agree that the current increasingly-difficulty EQE actually influences the day-to-day knowledge of practising EPA’s that much. The importance of the Litigation Certificate will increase because that is a huge missing piece in the current EQE. For anyone who has not dealt with infringement and litigation in their national qualification, then I predict that most employers will require such a course to become well-rounded. The number of these courses will therefore increase. That means that the EQE can move more to a “patent agent exam”. It is also possible to use the EPAC exam as one of the “EQE patent agent” exam, freeing up the EQE to cover more substantive issues, than procedural ones.
I still think that the general principle should be that “European Patent Attorney” assures a client that the person has the up-to-date competence in European patent law to advise them and to carry out the necessary acts to assist them. Competence = qualification + knowledge + experience.. Competence is not just qualification many years ago.

My advice to candidates is a little different. If you are happy with taking exams very similar to the one given in 2023, then it makes sense to prepare and pass them as quickly as possible. If you can already see that it is impossible due to the high degree of unpredictability and overwhelming volume, then it may be smarter mentally to wait 1-2 years until the level goes back to the normal level or the exam is actually properly adapted to the online format. Actions will speak louder than any hollow words, such as “it will get better”. Yes – there is a risk that the system will change, but in all previous changes, the transitional provisions have been very reasonable and very sensible.

Maria Luisa Iarossisays:

After having read your comment, I am upset. Last year I passed all the papers in the first round but didn’t do paper C, leaving it for this year. I will most likely fail paper C this year on the basis of a badly prepared paper both in terms of language, content repartition, insufficient time and highly specific technical content. This C paper is not capable of testing whether I am fit to become an European patent attorney. It makes no sense to hinder the careers of candidates in this way. I feel frustrated and hopeless.

Hi Maria Luisa,
sorry for being pragmatic, but I have had questions from people about taking main exams in 2023, and even questions about whether to change careers because people don’t think that they can pass some of the exams. In general, the advice to candidates is “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”, but it is currently impossible to guess what “the worst” could be, and therefore also impossible to prepare for it.

Mentally, some candidates are fine with “prepare again, try the exam again, and hope for the best” approach, but for a lot of candidates, it is very negative mentally.
It is a personal choice, but in some cases it can help to skip 1 or 2 years to mentally rest and reset. It also depends on the attitude of your employer. The cost of an exam goes up with each resit, which also affects your mental status. Particularly, when you do not know how to prepare differently to the last time.

Avatar photoDaniel X. Thomassays:

I can agree with you that “that the new EQE proposals are theoretically an improvement”. I would however insist on “theoretically”.

I was nevertheless very much impressed with the work done by the people attempting to amend the EQE other than by a series of MCQ. That in view of the exclusive on-line EQE, the situation had to change is not at stake, but the change has to bring something to the candidates, the profession and not just to the EPO.

When you think of the deeper reasons of the creation of the EPAC by the EPO, which is an exam not recognised by any authority, I would not mix the two issues. On the other hand, your point on litigation is a valid point. But let’s first start with a goof basic e-EQE.

The problems with AB started when, for, already at this time, reasons of savings, both the non-chemistry and chemistry AB parts were merged. It is a matter of fact that the philosophy of drafting claims and dealing with those is quite different in the two technical areas. Merging of A and B papers was one possibility, but the EPO insisted on this, as it was saving costs.

The problems with C started with the e-EQE as the split in two parts was carried out upon papers which were originally not conceived for such a split. That the papers were too long is a slightly different issue, but it has also to be taken into account.

When the documents for C were not in one single official language of the EPO, it was a necessity to give some translations in form of a short glossary. The drawback was that some candidates manifestly considered the features translated as being important ones. This gave a clear edge to native speakers, without helping much non-native speakers. The problem of translation still exists and I fear that the new e-EQE will not bring much change to the language issue. I doubt that a dictionary will ever come back.

I also hope that the transitional measures will be reasonable and sensible. When it was merely to adapt the time given to candidates, but the structure was not changed fundamentally, besides the merging of chemistry with non-chemistry, this aim was relatively easy to achieve. With the present change to a completely different system, I have some reasonable doubts.

My comment at the end was more of the kind “deal with the devil you know, rather than to go and be confronted by a completely new devil”.

In any case there should be more than one mock prepared for all the new papers. Again, for reasons of costs, I am not convinced that this will be the case.

The necessity of mocks is not only for the candidates but also for the trainers. This should not be forgotten in the circles involved with setting up the new e-EQE. that the mocks and the actual exams have to be guinea-pigged in WiseFlow, goes without saying.

Joris Bohnsonsays:

As somebody currently looking to hire a patent attorney, the impact of the eEQE has been to reduce the number of available applicants. Since I am aware of the serious eEQE drawbacks, I am fully prepared to employ someone who has at least passed in part the EQE, knowing that are probably “fully qualified” even if this is not yet the case on paper. For other employers who are not so well-informed, they probably rule of these candidates and thus miss out on employing younger people, who are necessary to sustain an aging attorney workforce. Is the EQE committee aware that they have engaged on a suicide mission?

I don’t think that the Committees have a particular goal in mind, but there is a natural tendency to make exams increasingly more difficult. People in the Committees become experts in that exam, and they cannot judge the difficulty any more for those who see it for the first time (after only practicing the last 4 exams)., or have a different technical background, or a different language ability. In addition, a lot of them will have passed everything first time, so they often have a bias that the exam is too easy any way.
It starts to get a problem when Committees have absolute power,, and they feel that no-one should pass unless they can demonstrate that they are smart enough to solve the puzzle that has been set in the same way as anticipated. This happened in 2007 with the C Committee. at that time.
This can only be prevented by having a body that ensures uniformity across the exams (so that they are not all testing the same thing), and uniformity between different years.. It should be a requirement that the exams are only tested in WISEflow (that is still not required). And they should have guinea pigs with different technical backgrounds and different language abilities doing the testing in WISEflow.
It would be great if they reintroduced the resitter statistic for each exam so that we can see. And statistics on the number of attempts on each exam paper before a candidate is qualified.
There is also the general defence that the exam should be hard. I am not against it being difficult, but those who do the preparation should be reliably able to pass first time, or exceptionally with a 2nd attempt at A, B or C. This used to be the case, but it is no longer true.

These statistics are included to quantify the experiences of many that have contacted me. The “non-native” group is very diverse – the best we can do is “Nationality”, which includes a large group who were born and educated in that country. “Nationality” was not available in the past, so I included the “Residency” as well. The disadvantage is shown by comparing their “pass + CF rate” with the same “pass + CF rate” for all candidates. Italy was chosen because it has a reasonable group size, and most Italians did not grow up learning English to a very high degree.

The solution is to fully adapt the ABC & D2 exams to the current online format and WISEflow, which must be used by candidates. And also to properly implement the “combined technologies” philosophy.
In other words, make the exams as promised repeatedly during the last 3 years.

Or go back to in-person exams where the exams are not divided, and you can compare pages side-by-side.

I have added a little more explanation about the statistics used in the original post. The issues raised are based on my experience of years of teaching “non-native” and “native” speakers, and the many DM’s I have received this year and blog posts that I have seen.
The statistics were included to provide some objective support for these reported experiences. There are a lot of affected candidates who do not complain or appeal because they believe it is completely pointless or they cannot afford it. There is a lack of empathy from those who are fortunate enough to have had a high-degree of EN/FR/GE exposure, full support from their employer (including days off and payment of all costs), and practical experience that is more than just translating. Also, there is a lack of empathy by those fortunate to pass first-time. Many patent attorneys have little empathy anyway because of their technical background (most extreme are males with software or electro-mechanical backgrounds ;-). so it is hoped that they might be convinced by statistics that show an unfair disadvantage against “native speakers”.
Italy was chosen because it has a reasonable group size, and most Italians did not grow up learning English to a very high degree. The “non-native” group is very diverse – the best we can do is “Nationality”, which includes a large group who were born and educated in that country. “Nationality” was not available in the past, so I included the “Residency” as well.
The disadvantage of these groups can be seen by comparing their “pass + CF rate” with the same “pass + CF rate” for all candidates.

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