Thursday, 14 March 2019

As of 2020 the distribution of points for parts I and II may vary

The Examination Board has posted a notice (dated 13.03.2019) with the following text on the EQE website (emphasis added):

Notice from the Examination Board of the European qualifying examination (EQE) 

Article 1(4) REE and Rule 26 IPREE specify that the purpose of Paper D is “to assess candidates' ability to answer legal questions and to draft legal assessments”. 

As of 2020 the distribution of points for parts I and II may vary between 60:40 and 40:60 for Paper D. 

How the points are to be distributed will not be announced before the examination. 

As always, the distribution of marks will be indicated on the examination paper.

For the Examination Board 
The Chairman 
Jakob Kofoed

This was already announced at the Tutor's Meeting on 18 October 2018 and iepi Information 4/2018 (page 25) - see our earlier blog post (here), which also briefly addresses the background behind this decision.

NB: D 2020 will be on 17 March 2020 (see here)

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

DII 2019: Shoe soles

The DII paper of 2019 related to shoe soles for running shoes. Your client is a German shoe manufacturer, FASTER, whose main markets are Germany and Austria. FASTER has its only factory in Germany. Its owner found out that all metal nanoparticles modify the foam structure of a shoe, thereby improving the energy storage of the shoe sole. The increase depends on the type of material (any metal, in particular copper; Silica) and on the size of the nanoparticles. Slightly more than a year ago, your client had filed several patent applications, EP-F1, EP-F3, EP-F2.
An Australian competitor, HIKE, is also active in the field of running shoes, and has its only factory in Austria. HIKE made several announcents of the internet, and has two patents: a national Austrian patent AT-H with a broad claim scope, and a European patent EP-H which has a problem with its translation (EP-H was originally filed by a Chinese company, LONGRUN, in Chinese, and the English translation has a major error in it).
There is also a Mr Furious, a former employee of tours, who sold information to HIKE when he was angry for not getting promoted.
In this paper, analysis of priority was a key topic, and partial priority was present very pronouncedly -as expected-. Mr Furious' acts are an evident abuse against your client, and gave the opportunity to file a new application for Silica nanoparticle soles.

Below we give our answer, with a quite complete discussion as to whether priority is valid or not, what all the prior art is, novelty, inventive step, provisional protection, full protection, etc.

(For DI, see here; for general impressions to D as a whole, see here).

Our answer:

DI 2019: Entitlement, third party observations, missing claims, priority, debit accounts

The DI part of the 2019 D paper again had a variety of topics. Scoring about 20 marks in 1,5 hours or 25 marks within 2 hours seems feasible for a well-prepared candidate. How many marks one can achieve does not only depend on the legal knowledge and familiarity with the material, but also depends strongly on the strategy chosen for the D paper as a whole, especially how much time a candidate allocated for DI (some may choose to use only 1,5 hours for DI to have 4 hours for DII), how many marks were targetted, and how the candidate planned to deal with and actually dealt with difficult questions (skip or struggle, impose time limit or continue until no more ideas, ...).

We want to emphasize that our answer is not a typical answer of a candidate sitting the exam. It is the combined or at least cross-checked answer of experienced tutors. But even experienced tutors are not flawless, so our answer may not be fully complete, or even wrong as to certain aspects. We welcome any comments!

Our answers to the DI-part of the 2019 paper are given below:

(For DII, see here; for general impressions to D as a whole, see here).

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

D 2019: first impressions?

To all who sat the D-paper today:

What are your first impressions to this year's D-paper? Any general or specific comments?

How did this year's D-paper compare to the D papers of 2013 - 2018 (assuming your practiced those) - DI and DII-wise: was DI similar as to its subjects and difficulty as the last few years? Was DII similar as 2013-2017 or more like 2018 with a large legal case part of the DII?
How much time did you allocate for DI, how much for DII? Which part did you do first, DI or DII?
How many marks do you expect to have scored in the DI-part, in the DII-part, and for the whole D?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score? 
How did you use the additional 30 minutes that were available to to the paper? Did you use it for the DI or the DII part? How many marks do you expect to have scored extra thanks to those 30 minutes?

Were the topics well balanced in the DI-part? Was the balance between EPC and PCT right for you? Any substantive topics in DI (e.g., was partial priority tested)?
Which of the the DI Questions did you consider particularly difficult, and which relatively 'easy'?
Did you skip any DI-questions? If so, why (e.g., too difficult, allocating the time for another question, no time left)?

Were the legal issues in the DII-part well doable? Patentability? Difficult priority analysis? Non-standard claim formats? Business situation and relevance clear? Exploitation? 
Did, in your view, a single error in one of the legal issues or one of the patentability issues in DII have a big knock-on effect on the rest of the paper (the D papers of the last six years were very well designed in this respect!)?

If you participated in the pilot program to answer the exam using a computer, what were you experiences? Would you recommend it? What are the pros and cons that you experienced while doing it?

The paper and our answers

The D paper is available in all 3 languages on the EQE webpages, Compendium, D

The core of our answers will be given in two separate blog posts: one for the DI-questions and another post for the DII-part.

We look forward to your comments!

Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Changes to be expected for D 2020 and later

At yesterday's Tutor’s meeting in Munich, the D committee indicated that there are no big changes to be expected for D 2019 compared to the papers of the last years. As before, the D paper will be a 5 hour + 30 minutes paper. The D paper is a single paper with a DI part (legal questions – to test legal knowledge) and a DII part (legal assessment – to test ability to implement the knowledge), as described in Rule 26 IPREE. The committee indicated that it can be expected that D 2019 will have, as before,  about 40% DI and 60% DII.

However, no specific ratio is indicated in Rule 26 IPREE and both parts are equally important. The D committee indicated that after 2019, there will still be ONE Paper D, but the ratio between DI and DII may vary: “any reasonable variation (e.g., between 40:60 – 60:40) should be expected”.

Update 18 December 2018:

In epi Information 4/2018 (page 25), T. Rijns published the following annoucement:

[begin citation]

Announcement on the EQE - Paper D

T. Reijns

Article 1(4) REE and Rule 26(1) IPREE specify that the purpose of Paper D is "to assess candidates' ability to answer legal questions and to draft legal assessments".

Over the last 4 years we have noticed a decline in the quality of candidates' answers to the legal questions in Paper D. The candidates appear to be less well prepared on the legal documentation in the syllabus. It also appears that candidates focus more on the preparation for the legal assessment part (part 2) of Paper D than the legal questions (part 1).

With the formal merger of the two parts of Paper D into a single exam some years ago, candidates have shifted their focus to the legal assessment and moved to answering the legal questions only in the time they have left after completing the legal assessment. This in itself is a way of time management that is allowed and could be a good strategy for some candidates.

What is not desired is when candidates do not prepare for the legal questions enough and focus only on the legal assessment. Fifteen years ago, more emphasis was given to the legal assessment by changing from a 50:50 point distribution to 40:60, because candidates at that time put most of their effort on answering the legal questions and gave little attention to the legal assessment. We have now reached the other extreme.

In order to be considered "fit for practice", candidates must know the law and be able to apply it. Only being able to do one of these, is not enough.

For this reason, the point distribution between the legal questions and the legal assessment will be floating with a variation between 60:40 to 40:60 from EQE 2020 onwards.

Since the purpose of the floating point distribution is to encourage candidates to prepare well for both parts of Paper D, the distribution will not be announced before the date of the exam. Of course, the point distribution will be clearly indicated on the exam papers.

[end citation]

Friday, 29 June 2018

D 2018: the results are in!!

The results are in: the list of scores for each EQEreg-number can be found here (via EQE Results and Statistics).

1123 candidates enrolled forpaper D 2018.
Of these:
- 33% passed (369 our of 1123)
- 12% got a compensable fails (140)
- i.e., 45% passed or got compensable fail
- 55% failed (641)
- 54 did not show up (score 0)

With an average score of 42,7, the scores varied from 5 to 79.

This is a significantly lower pass rate than in previous years (pass+compensable fail in 2017: 54%; in 2015 even 67%!).

The Examiner's Report is not yet available (29 June, 16:55).

Update 5 July 19:30: the Examiner’s Report is now also available online.

Roel, Joeri

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

DII 2018: Oliebollen - methods and appartuses

In the DII 2018, the client is a Bollebozen B.V. (BB) who is active in the food industry, both in the manufacture and design of processes and processing equipment and in the large-scale production of processed food. One of thei products is a Ducth speciality, called "Oliebollen", which are consumed at the turn of the year. They conwist of a ball of dough mixed with dried fruit, which is fried. One concern with all fried products is that they have high levels of acrylamide, a substance some studies have indicated is carcinogenic in high doses. ([001])
The client has a granted P patent that is in opposition appeal, 3 filed applications -3 EP and 1 PCT-, as well as the intention to file another PCT. A research institute offered the client a EP phase of a PCT application, which they will offer to one of the client's competitors if your client doesnot buy it. Some applications are deemed to be withdrawn because of lack of payment of fees. The PCT applications are still very early in the international phase. Some applications/patent claim priority, others donot (yet). Issues relate to genus-species with nozzle-conical nozzle-trumpet shaped nozzle, novelty of ranges and of amended (sub-)ranges, essential features, potential Art.54(3) effects, unclaimed subject-matter.
So far for the "usual" parts (even though the answer will be quite surprising). In addition to the above, the DII started with a challenging DI-like case: appeal in opposition, where the proprietor merely referred to first instance submissions than filing a complete statement of grounds, The opponent filed test results with the appeal to demonsytrate that also the patent as maintained in amended form had an insufficiency problem. Such highly legal topics have not really been part of the DII part anymore since the D-paper is a single 5-hour paper (with 30 minites additional time since last year).

Below we give our answer. We do not give a full analysis, but summarize the conclusions of all questions below. A full answer needs full discussion as to whether priority is valid or not, what all the prior art is, novelty, inventive step, provisional protection, full protection, etc.