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Major improvements already visible
- A detailed EQE syllabus: the proposal explicitly mentions what candidates need to study and prepare. Assuming it is checked and updated yearly, this will be very useful, especially for those who get little support from their employer.
- Smaller testable blocks: the current C exam has shown that splitting the current exams is impossible, so this is the only way forward.
- More flexibility in question and answer type: using real multiple-choice (not just True/False) greatly simplifies the exam drafting process, and helps non-native speakers at least get some marks if they miss nuance in a question.
- Closer to real-life: the “competencies tested” sections are real-life competences. That means candidates can look at actual real-life examples and discuss with experienced colleagues how they do it.
- No more “puzzle-exams”: mainly achieved by starting again, bottom up with smaller pieces. See below for additional changes needed in the EQE organisation to maintain this.
Suggested changes in proposal
- Missing subjects:
- M3 & M4: unitary patent (UPC) still needs to be covered
- M2: communications in appeal
- M2 or M3: Rules of Procedure for Boards of Appeal
- M1 & M2: technical fields and types for which claims must be drafted / amended, for example: apparatus, system or device claims with mechanical / electrical / software elements, Means-plus-function, method, process or use claims with actions, Step-plus-function, “Product by process” claim, chemical processes, computer-program, computer-implemented inventions, composition of matter inventions
- Add provisions / subjects that will NOT be tested: such as
- All exams => no substantive enablement (A. 83 EPC)
- All exams => no EPC provisions dealing with organisation, internal financing, treaty amendment and treaty accession: A.4, A.4a, A.5 – A.13, R.9, Protocols on Staff Complement / Centralisation / Privileges & Immunities, A.26 – A.36, A.37 – A. 50 and A.165 – A. 166, A.169 – A. 178
- All exams => no PCT provisions dealing with organisation, internal financing, treaty amendment and treaty accession: A.50 – A.52, A.53, A.54 – A.57, A.58(1)-(4), R.84 – R.85, R.88 – R.89, A.59, A.60 – 61, R.81, R.88 – R.89, A.62 – A.63, A.65 – A.68, A.69(i)-(iii), A.69(vi)-(vii)
- All exams => no case law expected which is not in the EPO Guidelines or G decisions or published in OJEPO in last 3 years. For the current exams, there is no official limit to case law which can be asked. Preferred is a list of decisions which should be studied. Also possible are selected sections from the Case Law book. Candidates remain free to cite relevant decisions themselves if it supports their arguments.
- All exams => no OJEPO notice which is not in the EPO Guidelines or published more than 3 years ago. For the current exams, there is no official limit to notices which can be asked. Preferred is a list of notices which should be studied. Candidates remain free to cite relevant notices themselves if it supports their arguments.
- All exams => no citations required to support arguments relating to national law
- M1 & M2 => technical fields and types for which claims do not need to be drafted / amended, such as: Markush-group, biotech inventions, claims based on a biological deposit, claims based on a sequence.
- More substantive infringement: infringement is only in M4. Assuming that the level will be similar to the current D2 exam, the substantive analysis will be artificially limited to genus/species relationships and equivalents.
- M4* should also cover more real-life situations, like Compare a claim to a description of an invention with drawings to determine direct or equivalent infringement, Respond to a Cease-and-Desist letter. Keep it in M4 – M2 is already pretty full, and it fits better in M4 if you consider the level needed.
- Replace M1 by part of M2: (updated 7 Sep 22) the level for M1 is difficult to figure out for both candidates and the exam drafters. It is great to test some basic skills which apply more generally, but there is a big overlap with what you need to master for M2. And M2 is already pretty full. This also allows more appeal subjects to be covered by M2.
- M1* should cover Drafting claims and description, Replying to an Office Action, Amending claims in Examination, reply to WO-ISA, patentability reasoning), with the M2 mix of multiple choice and open questions / free text, at about the level of the previous A and B exams (these were intended for candidates with only 2 years experience. The current B exam has become too
- M2* should cover Drafting an opposition or appeal, replying to an opposition or appeal, replying to communications from OD or BoA, Amending claims in opposition or appeal, patentability and legal reasoning.
- M1* should cover Drafting claims and description, Replying to an Office Action, Amending claims in Examination, reply to WO-ISA, patentability reasoning), with the M2 mix of multiple choice and open questions / free text, at about the level of the previous A and B exams (these were intended for candidates with only 2 years experience. The current B exam has become too
- Provide example letters: many “competencies tested” are based on real-life, so it would help candidates (and practicing attorneys 🙂 if a selection was available of good real-life examples, such as Drafting an opposition, Drafting an appeal, Reply to notice of opposition, Reply to a notice of appeal etc.
- No “negatively marked” exams: for all exams, start with 0 marks, and award marks for correct and acceptable comments. The current A and B exams start with 100 marks, and candidates lose marks for each “mistake”. But this is only fair to all candidates if every possible mistake can be anticipated by the exam drafters.
- Introduce negative penalty marks: if candidates include something which shows a fundamental or dangerous lack of understanding, some marks should be deducted. For example, on M4 informing a client that they are free to produce “A+B” because they have a patent claiming “A+B”.
- Testing must also reflect “real-life”: to be consistent, a “mistake” which is fully correctable/recoverable later in the proceedings should only lead to a very limited loss of marks. For example:
- not using a two-part claim (penalised in current A & B exams), using an incorrect “closest prior art” (severely penalised in current C exam), drafting a broader claim than expected (penalised in current A & B exams).
- less weighting in the marking to trivial and completely obvious arguments, or to trivial invalidity attacks which would be dismissed out-of-hand later in the proceedings
- solutions expected for claims should not be inherently unclear or over-broad, and an experienced attorney should also find the claims acceptable (a problem with current A & B exams – functional claims are often required for full marks, and phrases like “empty cavity” have been required in past exams.
Changes needed in EPO / epi organisation
- Fewer people making exams: to increase consistency over the different modules.
- Agree an official epi/EPO EQE budget: to reduce reliance on volunteers, to pay at least exam drafters for their time, and to stimulate more people to assist.
- More prominent role for epi: if the exam is to be more “real-life”, then this depends greatly on a proactive role by the epi. Most candidates assume it is EPO exam, so they are unaware of the major contribution by the epi. They do not realise that they can also give feedback through the epi committees.
- Less freedom to deviate from the syllabus: new elements should represent no more than 10% of each exam. Anything larger than that must be announced well-ahead of the exam.
- Fair, consistent treatment for non-native speakers: the current unpublished procedure of non-native speaker checking does not work consistently. Exam lengths and language-use vary wildly between exams and from year-to-year (mainly seen in the current B and C exams). Maximum exam lengths (in words) can be set. In addition, technical terms can easily be translated into many languages (many years ago this used to be provided with the C exam), for example using the WIPO database.
- Transparent, accessible and speedy objection / appeal system: there needs to be a much faster way of identifying and fixing mistakes in the exams. “Highlights” of the current system include: only 1 month to file grounds, no official publication of the exam marking and appeal procedures (except the REE), appeal only accepted by fax (+ confirmation copy) or post, payment only by bank transfer, unreasoned decisions, deliberate delaying of hearings & decisions until after the next exam.
- Provide flexibility for enrolment dates: (added 7 Sep 22) currently the dates are strictly enforced, with no formal ways to request an extension or to request re-establishment. This is very old-fashioned. There should be at least a grace period with a 50% surcharge, and the possibility to request re-establishment if all due care can be proven. With the move to a digital exam, there is no good reason why this should not be provided.
- Introduce compulsory permanent education: it makes no sense to devote this much attention to a small group of future representatives (about 6% of the 12400 practitioners on the list) when the knowledge evaporates within weeks / months of the exam. The goal of the profession should be to elevate and maintain the knowledge levels of ALL practicing professional representatives.
- Allow anyone to take any exam modules at any time: such as qualified European patent attorneys, lawyers, employees of applicants, formalities officers, national attorneys, technical assistants, and EPO examiners, so that they can voluntarily learn and stay up-to-date in a structured way.
Comments on some criticisms
- Testing less means it is easier to pass without studying: actual learning occurs during study and daily practice, and this is the same for every exam. It is even the same for the current EQE exams – some learn less PCT, relying on their EPC knowledge to pass, and they get away with it on about 1/4 of D exams.
- In the new system, it will be much harder to predict what they will not ask, so the preparation will need to cover more.
- During preparation, candidates will generate a set of materials which they will continue to use in real-life, so there will be much less of “just learning it for the exam”.
- EQE is the knowledge gateway to the profession: this may have been true in 1980’s, but it is no longer true.
- EQE candidates currently represent about 6% of the 12400 practitioners on the list. This does not include others who interact with the EPO, such as national lawyers, employees of applicants, formalities officers, trainees and technical assistants / patent engineers.
- Most of the very detailed knowledge evaporates within a few weeks / months of the exam. Compulsory permanent education would be more effective than over-testing EQE candidates.
- The most up-to-date professionals in the offices / departments are the formalities officers / paralegals because most changes are procedure-related. It is great news that there is now an EP exam especially for patent administrators !
- Just keep the longer exams: this is not an option. There are there major health and safety issues, and many contracting states have laws against forcing people to work too long behind a computer. In addition, the longer the exam:
- the more chance that technical difficulties will occur. A crash leads to approximately 20 minutes lost, resulting in additional stress.
- the more opportunity for cheating
- the more pages that need to be read on the screen or preprinted (the printer can also fail)
- Go back to separate Electricity/Mechanics and Chemistry modules: (updated 7 Sep 22) in
dailyprivate practice, there is less need for suchspecialists because new clients need to be accommodated. Inventions are made in many different fields even for the same applicant, and this will change for innovative clients. It is much better to havetrain and assess generalists who can refine their drafting/amending skill during daily work, and are therefore not afraid to learn new areas.
- a good resource for learning general claim drafting is “Landis on Mechanics of Patent Claim Drafting” by Robert C. Faber. It focusses on US-style (so you need to filter that out), but it has a many practical examples in different technical fields (from Mechanics to Sequence Listings) where you are guided through practical claim drafting. It is an expensive book, but every attorney firm and patent department should really have a copy.
- of course you should not be reckless or negligent when taking a case, but that applies to all aspects, not just the technical competence. but “competence” = combination of skills (ability to perform a task), knowledge (ability to understand and explain a task), experience (type, years, supervision committed to obtaining said knowledge) and behavior.
- “deep” specialists are often preferred in-house, but they are a problem in private practice because their future is coupled to the workload from existing clients. Even “deep” specialists should be continuously learning.
- Go back to the old in-person EQE: this will never happen. It was always a massive effort and cost to arrange all the exam locations, to get the paper copies of the exams there, to collect all the exam answers, to scan them and to mark the handwriting. It was also a massive effort for candidates to ensure that they arrived timely at the exam location with all their books and to write by hand for several hours.
- but an organisation, like a national patent office, could provide invigilation and reliable internet connections for local candidates (similar to the system used for the UK national exam). They could also provide computers or at least monitors/keyboards. And they would need to provide IT support :-).
16 replies on “New e-EQE has major improvements”
Thanks for your contribution.
I have had a careful look at the document issued by the EPO and I replied to the questionnaire.
What struck me in the questionnaire is the insistence of being able to answer difficult questions involving lots of material under time pressure. Is time pressure not something which representatives impose on themselves in waiting up to the last moment to perform some necessary acts? In my opinion, with a little time more a well prepared candidate could be successful at the EQE. I never understood that time pressure would make a candidate fit to practice.
I agree with some of your comments, but other relate to aspects which have not directly to do with the qualifications needed to deal with the EPO. I have thus a different opinion on some of your suggestions.
After all the EQE is primarily there to insure that the representative knows how to deal with the EPO.
That G decisions are important goes without saying. The same applies to case law quoted in the guidelines. This should be made clear in the syllabus. I have given to all candidates I have seen in the recent years a list of G decisions which should absolutely be known to them.
Other decisions cans be used by candidates, but they have then to explain why they are applicable in situation dealt with in the exam.
Otherwise it boils down to a kind of name dropping of T/J decisions.
In this respect dealing with appeals is certainly to be welcomed. The substantial side of the appeal procedure is not much different from that in examination and appeal. What appears important is the procedural aspect. However, as long as the discretion of the boards will be handled in a hap hazard manner as it is at present, it will not bring much to have questions about appeals as the answers can vary from board to board.
Another aspect which is to be welcomed is that more emphasis should be given to the PCT route when filing of an application.
Cees will be very happy.
That the work of a representative goes beyond dealing with the EPO is not at stake, but the question I am asking: is it absolutely necessary to start in the profession?
I am thinking here at all the part of the job related to contracts, licensing and infringement.
Those aspects should not be neglected, but I have doubts that an exhaustive training and examination are possible and even desirable so early in the career.
It would be much better to have a second set of exams dealing with those topics. I am thinking at training like the one needed for obtaining a litigators certificate allowing to represent before the UPC. Coming up with the UPC during the initial training and examination appears much too early.
Going further than what is presently done in D2 seems not necessarily beneficial. Determining direct infringement or infringement by equivalent cannot be envisaged globally as there is no DoE valid for all contracting states and we are far from a coherent case law of the UPC.
I think here that all those aspects could be part of the professional development of a qualified representative as you have suggested.
I have also noticed that candidates having been successful at the EQE very quickly seem to forget what they have learned and practised for the EQE. The problem-solution approach seem forgotten for many.
Having trained people for ABC for nearly 30 years I would agree that for the last years those papers were rather predictable. This was not necessarily correct. In various examiner’s reports it was noted that candidates try to apply a method irrespective of the actual case.
Being predictable various methods emerged in order to be successful at the EQE. I merely refer to “X,Y,Z books”, Focussing, Colouring or underlining methods as example. It is thus a good move for the EQE to become less predictable. But after some time we might face the same problem.
When reading the EPO information about the new EQE and especially when going through the questionnaire set up by the EPO, a change of wording from the beginning to the end was discernible. At the beginning the term auto-correction is used and at the end it has muted to automatic correction. Under auto-correction one could also understand that the candidate cannot progress if he has not given the right answer. This is found in e-learning modules.
When setting up a new e-EQE is abundantly clear that the aim of the EPO was primarily to automatize correction as it is presently done in the pre-exam. This would apparently be the cheapest option for the EPO.
It happens that the various tasks of a representative are difficult to cover by mere MCQ or by a true/false assessment. The reply can to a MCQ or to a Yes/No question can be correct, but for the wrong legal reason. Without knowing the correct legal basis of the answer it is difficult to assess whether a candidate is fit to practice or not.
I would therefore consider that using real multiple-choice (not just True/False) might simplify the exam drafting process and the correction, but it is not a guarantee for the correct knowledge. Whether it helps non-native speakers to at least get some marks is debatable.
What appears positive is that a clear syllabus has been set up. It could even be improved as suggested above.
Smaller testable blocks represent an improvement, especially as the locked browser used during the exam does not correspond to the tools normally used by candidates.
The use of a locked browser makes the exam less real-life as representatives are using much easier tools. They are not clambered with a locked browser. That a locked browser is necessary to avoid cheating is not at stake, but the platform used should correspond more to what representatives are using in everyday life. It might cost some money to adapt it to the needs of the EQE, but it would be an investment.
I agree with you that non-native speakers are at a disadvantage, but this disadvantage cannot be compensated by a MCQ. MCQ yes, but with a free text part in order to indicate the proper legal basis.
Claim drafting, argumentation as MCQ might look as a nice idea, but has nothing to do with real-life of a representative or an examiner. May be AI will make representatives and examiners superfluous and so would probably be most welcome by the EPO. This is another story, not for now.
Most professions have continuous education schemes and participation to trainings can earn some marks. This could be an interesting task for epi. Let’s see what will come out of it.
I will stop here although I could say much more.
Hi DXThomas, thanks for your comments.
1. Time pressure. I think time pressure will always be a factor for most candidates, but you find that in every exam. But I agree with you that providing “lots of material” to create an artificial time pressure is not testing any useful skills. Typical exam advise to candidates is to just scan long texts as quickly as possible, don’t think too deeply about what it all means, and and go with your first guess based on a sort of pattern recognition built up during studying. It is the current defense used for the overfull C and B exams, but it really makes it much harder for a lot of non-native speakers to pass, and for those with experience.
2. Goal of EQE. It is not just to cover interactions with the EPO – it also covers advising a client on validity AND infringement. That was explicitly added in Rule 153 EPC with EPC2000. (traditionally, the EPO takes care of the EPO-interactions in the EQE exam, and the epi is responsible for the drafting and advising parts). It is irresponsible in the current system not to include infringement – it is much more important than being able to write an opposition. You are expected to be able to evaluate infringement in real-life, and you can not learn proper drafting and amendment unless you have really studied and thought about infringement. It is particularly important before the EPO, because you need to resist the clarity pressure by the EPO examiners to keep adding terms to the claim. Also now with the constant pressure to delete anything in the description that the examiner considers “irrelevant”. All these changes to get the patent granted can basically destroy the actual scope of protection.
3. Contracts and licensing. I agree that there are many things that you may need to learn in your career, but there has to be a balance in the number of exams needed to perform certain tasks. Not passing an exam does not mean that you are not competent to do these tasks. Also important to realise is that passing an exam is not a guarantee of competence. The EQE Board say that they pass candidates who show the potential to become fit to practice. Courses are available on all these things – unfortunately, there is no compulsory permanent education at European level to stimulate taking these courses.
4. Three years experience. Officially, each candidate must have completed three years under the supervision of a European Patent Attorney. I think this is actually the real issue that no-one talks about. What each candidate gets out of this varies wildly, depending on who the supervisor is, how many European cases are actually handled, the resources available to the company/department, the availability of the supervisor and the knowledge. For those who have learned a lot, have dealt with a lot of EP cases, and have taken national exams, there is a lot of repeating of subjects when taking the EQE. Perhaps one or more EQE modules should be optional for those who have a national qualification. Perhaps add an extra module that you can take instead of having to spend 3 years being supervised (a lot of candidates would do this 🙂
5. Auto-correction. They will already have this for the EPAC exam – if you do not score enough on the morning part (multiple choice – at least 8 out of 15 correct), the afternoon part (open questions) will not be marked. A lot can go wrong, and you only have one chance each year, so it may be unfair. But I think at least in the EPAC implementation, you would still be able to do the second part, and then file an objection (if there are grounds).
6. Cost of the exam. Yes – a lot of changes have been driven over the years to make the EQE cheaper. That was why I mentioned a proper budget. This was discussed several years ago, and the problem then was that there was never a proper agreement about who should pay for the EQE, and how much. I cannot remember what the actual costs were (the document from the Administrative Council that I saw is not publicly available), but I think it was >10 million Euro per year when the exams were held in person, and at that time, a large proportion was paid by the EPO. However, the EPO are very conscious of keeping the quality the same, so they are looking for common exam practices (like multiple choice) that can be used.
7. Lockdown browser. There have been many improvement this year, but there is still a real mismatch. But the main issue is that the current EQE exams are very-old fashioned, and that is the main reason why they are difficult to implement in these online exam tools (Lockdown browser is used by a lot of universities etc). The other main issue is taking the exam on a company laptop on a company network, which these online tools were also not designed for.
Pete, I must respectfully disagree with your opinion that there is no need for specialists (whether in chemistry, biotech, mechanics, etc) in daily practice.
Perhaps in very small firms it is the case that everyone is (of necessity) a generalist. But for most of the rest of us your statement simply does not reflect reality.
It might be possible for people with a technical background in Field A to draft a patent competently in unrelated Field B. But, I would wager, that is only realistically possible in the very simplest of cases.
Of course, everyone should have an understanding of the basics of drafting as applicable to other practice areas. But it would be irresponsible and reckless – possibly even negligent – for a specialist in biotechnology to draft a mechanical patent (or vice versa) in real life, even if it was for the same client. The client’s interests would be far better served by the biotechnologist asking an engineer colleague to take on the drafting work, even if the engineer needs to look to the biotechnologist to understand some of the commercial context, get background information on the client, and so on.
At least here in the UK, acting outside our own technical competence could potentially even violate the professional code of conduct imposed by our national regulator. I would be interested to know if other countries have similar codes, independent of the EPI code of conduct.
Hi Anonymous (2022/09/03 at 3:48 pm), thanks for your comments.
I agree that specialists are needed, but the specialisation tends to develop when you are working on several cases with clients. It certainly does not need to be tested at the EQE.
I agree that, in general, most mechanical engineers may struggle with biotech inventions – that is probably the most extreme example.
But you can learn enough of any technology to handle the case, if you are motivated to do it, and you are given the time. I have worked in many high-tech companies where engineers and patent attorneys are moved between competences and given the opportunity to learn. And every case must be different to the previous ones to be patentable.
I understand the issue about generalists, but I think your working environment is not typical. It is a luxury to be able to refuse work because you are not 100% comfortable doing it. I agree that there is a limit to what you should do, but it is not black-and-white. Many biotech and chemical attorney in private practice draft the mechanical inventions because there are so few mechanical specialists (although it is not always efficient). If you can understand the invention and discuss it in detail with the inventor, and you don’t misrepresent your knowledge/experience to the client, then you can probably handle it.
Are there any national court cases where technical competence has been an issue – how do you define someone’s “technical competence”? Only the subjects in which you have a technical degree? Only the specialisations chosen in your final year for your technical degree? Based on patent classifications of cases written recently? Based on recent technical courses that you have taken to maintain your competence?
I found this, which seems to be correct:
“Competence” = a combination of skills (the ability to perform a task), knowledge (the ability to understand and explain a task), experience (the type, years, supervision committed to obtaining said knowledge) and behavior. A qualification just means that aspects of this competence have been assessed at some point in time (usually in the past)
Of course you should not be reckless or negligent when taking a case, but that applies to all aspects, not just the technical part. And having a technical background and experience in a particular area is no guarantee that you will not make mistakes or miss something obvious.
The time pressure is the biggest hurdle of the exams. In real life you never draft a notice of opposition for 6 hours or never reply to an office action with claims amendment for 3 hours if you want to provide quality!
Fair, consistent treatment for non-native speakers
Pete was saying: “Typical exam advice to candidates is to just scan long texts as quickly as possible, don’t think too deeply about what it all means, and go with your first guess based on a sort of pattern recognition built up during studying. It is the current defense used for the overfull C and B exams, but it really makes it much harder for a lot of non-native speakers to pass and for those with experience”
I’m a slow reader in English. I cannot write an attack if I do not understand the essence of the annexes and cannot follow the advice mentioned above. For me as a non-native speaker, most of non-native speakers fail because of the exam lengths and language-used as technical terms (see for example the awful C2021)
Introduce compulsory permanent education
I strongly agree with this proposal. In many EPC countries there are still many grandfathers who never studied and sat exams, never read the Guidelines, do not follow Official journal or Case law. The EQE candidates study and tackle the cases, the grandfathers sign.
Go back to separate Electricity/Mechanics and Chemistry modules
Pete, I will respectfully disagree with you that there is no need for specialists in daily practice.
We are specialist in particular technical field. I tackle cases in chemistry and pharmaceuticals, would take from food industry but never from aerospace or AI. In addition, this is a common practice in all private practices across Europe with attorneys more than 3 for example in the office.
If you are looking for a job at the moment, you would see that industry and private practices do not look just for a European patent attorney, rather for a EPA with physics, mathematics or computer science or an EPA with a microbiology, immunology etc.
Of course, everyone should have an understanding of the basics of drafting as applicable to other practice areas. That is why we read all the parts from the GL when studying for the EQE not just antibodies or CII.
According to the national exams and practices technical competence=the subjects in which you have a technical degree, a diploma.
Fully agree that not passing an exam does not mean that you are not competent to do these tasks in real life. Also important to realize is that passing an exam is not a guarantee of competence.
Hi Mariya, thanks for your comments.
time pressure on the current C is out of control (and B is rapidly becoming the same). There are a lot of good candidates who are now blocked from qualification, and forced to hope each year for a fairer exam.
My impression of the D exam is that there is just enough time pressure (you cannot finish everything completely), but there is time to do enough to pass if you are well-prepared. I think the D exam has been relatively stable over the last few years in level and amount of reading. And on the D2 part, they have moved away from “reading between the lines” to simply stating the facts and asking more clearly what they want to see in the answers. There is also a little time to think about how and what to answer, which is a more useful skill.
A common defense is that in real-life attorneys need a minimum level of En/Fr/Ge to deal with EPO communications. This is true, but in real-life you can take additional time and/or use translation tools. Language-level should not be used to create an unfair barrier to qualification for non-native speakers – our profession needs attorneys who speak the same languages as the inventors.
I agree that specialists are needed in real-life (you should never draft an application for an invention that you don’t understand enough), but it is not necessary to test such specialisation to pass the EQE.
In real-life, if there are aspects that you don’t understand, you can collaborate with other attorneys in your firm, or do extra reading, or external experts, or have the draft reviewed etc. The attorneys that have the best chance of continuous work in private practice are those willing to keep expanding their technical competences. For example, a large proportion of pharma inventions are generated by AI, and that is growing exponentially (also in other fields), so AI and Machine Learning knowledge is needed by everyone. The invention is not in the AI-filed itself, but for enablement before tests can be carried out, you need to understand the limitations in AI/ML.
The attorneys with the least chance of continuous work are those that refuse to expand – that is fine if you have enough work and/or are willing to find new clients in your technical area. But also realise that the amount of available work in the area that you got your technical degree will rapidly continue to shrink. Or you go in-house, where a deep specialisation is a real advantage.
Original post updated to clarify some comments – 7 Sep 22. See text in italics.
How do the current exams A, B, C and D translate to the new system, in terms of which ones do you have to take in any scenario of passed current exams, like e.g. if one has passed A and D, how do they continue?
Hi airwieland, you make an important point.
The impact on those already in the system should also be part of the proposal, and will affect the acceptance. Particularly when the new modules do not correspond 1:1 with the old papers. I realise that they cannot be exact about it yet, but they must have considered it, and the general principles for such a transition must be clear.
In the past 10 years, changes in the EQE system have not penalised existing candidates. For example, the last change introducing eternal compensation was very fair. I hope that they will do something similar this time.
Copied from Salted Patent blog:
Mark – Oct 4, 2022 at 8:03 AM
As I wrote in other blog, I believe that Examination Secretariat, Examination Board etc. are not just fit to hold and run this examination. They struggle for run a very expensive examination once in a year for a few hundred of candidates and every year lot of further issues, complaints, appeals. This year pre-exam had 30 marks neutralized, last year paper D 25 marks. That is not fair.
In my opinion EQE should be organized and run by a more competent and professional organization such as CEIPI or a University Institute with a supervision of IP professional commitee.
Don’t be misled by negative posts online – for the majority of candidates, everything went well. And this year was much better than last year.
Behind the scenes, there are a lot of people doing amazing and admirable work, mostly in their free time – they are doing their best with the EQE system that we have. I have heard a lot of positive stories about issues being fixed informally before, during and after the exam, but it is a real patchwork of rules, appeal decisions and competing interests that they have to navigate. The role of the Secretariat and key members of the Board and Committees is also very underestimated – without their drive, there would be no consistency year-to-year, and there would have been no EQE at all in 2021 & 2022.
What is not fair? They put the candidates first in these cases – they could have forced them to file appeals.
Giving it to a separate organisation has been discussed before – it just creates other problems. Universities want to couple it to a paid course, but this makes it expensive and difficult to access for many EPC states (even if online). Having several universities do it gives consistency problems (look at the different study loads for the UPC litigation certificate).
You also can’t give it to a group of well-meaning volunteers – it is hard to find people who want to devote their free time or have employers who don’t mind them using work time for their “hobbies”. And it is a nightmare to run a project over several months, because volunteers sometimes have to choose daily work over EQE. And with new people all the time, there is little continuity.
That is a weakness in the current system – they are reliant on the goodwill of the volunteers so criticism and expectations must be mild, and many of the volunteers feel that it is a thankless task. But on the other hand, it is a professional qualification in a multi-year training period. Every candidate has a technical degree, so they can pass with enough effort and time, and they should not have to worry about unexpected changes in exam levels, exam lengths and consistency, particularly for the same paper.
I think the best option would be for the epi to be mainly responsible for the content and format of the exams, have a budget, have several paid full-time or part-time positions to make exams, and at least one leader with an EQE vision for the future (“EQE = epi exam”) as part of an overall training & competence vision (+ formalities training + permanent education). The EPO can then be mainly responsible for what they do best – administration, organisation, planning and implemention.
I don’t know if this is an actual plan, but it seems to be the direction that they are heading towards.
Having talked with candidates from EQE 2023 who are seeing the bar raised significantly for passing A, B and C in the WISEflow format, I withdraw my support for the changes to the syllabus. It makes no sense to discuss this when the A, B and C committees have the complete freedom to not even comply with the existing guidelines.
No employer is going to pay for someone to spend 3-5 years trying to qualify, fighting the random technical issues, the sudden changes in format and the bloated exams.
And it is effectively shutting out non-native speakers from qualifying.
Please switch to a multiple-choice format as soon as possible, similar to the Pre-Exam, for all elements.
Thanks for the contribution and support of us, non-native speakers. I wonder what the last drop was ?
It takes the committee about 2 years to complete an exam, so these were all made from the start with the full knowledge of the limitations of WISEflow and that they must use combined technologies for AB. And all 3 exams ABC were more difficult than last year. I think D was within the normal boundaries, although D2 was maybe a bit long.
The last drop was probably C – there was not even an attempt to reduce the reading in C-1.
They had 2 years to do it. And they are ruining so many careers of good candidates who are completely fit-to-practice, but cannot do the trick correctly on the 1 day per year that they need to perform. It used to be that only C was like that, but A and B clearly have ambitions to become like C, with a different trick needed each year.
I worry that it is going to end up like in C 2007 (pass rate 15% before correction) when the ex-chairperson of the C committee said that candidates could not pass their perfect C exam, should choose a different career.
epi info 1/2023 includes an updated version of the requirements, including some different modules: https://information.patentepi.org/issue-1-2023/new-format-of-the-eeqe.html
Yes. I just left this comment:
I was initially enthusiastic for these changes. However, having talked with candidates from #EQE2023 who are seeing the bar raised significantly for passing A, B and C in the WISEflow format, I don’t believe these changes make sense. Everyone likes to pretend that everything is fine, but it is clear that the EQE system is completely derailed. The current organisation cannot even make fair ABC examinations for the broad range of candidates, especially non-native speakers. Who is going to make these new exams? Will they still be allowed to ignore all the WISEflow limitations and just make whatever they want because they are volunteers? No employer is going to pay for someone to spend 4-6 years trying to qualify 1x per year while fighting random technical issues, unannounced changes in format & content, technology “mood swings” and bloated exams. We are condemning a lot of good, well-prepared candidates to multiple years of re-sitting. It is especially devastating for non-native speakers. I believe the current organisation may be able to manage a US-style multiple-choice US agent exam. So, maybe we should be honest and admit that this is the best that we can hope for. At least such an EP-agent exam will be predictable, stable and there is a chance of doing the exam more than once per year.