Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Paper D EQE 2013 – Impressions

This year’s paper D was the first single-paper version. Whereas the last few years, the D-paper had a 3-hour DI-part for for 40 marks in the morning and  a 4-hour DII-part in the afternoon for 60 marks, with a lunch break in between.

What is your impression, especially if you sat the exam and now look back? How do you think it compared to earlier exams, and did the D-paper meet your expectations as to the level of difficulty, time management and format?
For our impressions, please read further.

Jelle, Roel

Was the single-paper format an advantage?

When I recall my D-paper, I ran 15 minutes short for DI in the morning, and had 20 minutes left when I did the DII in the afternoon: I could probably have obtained 2-3 marks on my DI if I could have used the afternoon-time for DI. On the other hand, you may have spent too much time on the DI-part in this single-paper format, and have too little time left for DII…

Looking at the paper, we estimate that legally well-trained candidates probably got the best balance for the D 2013 when spending about 2h15 for the DI-part and 2h45 for the DII-part. What is your experience? 


In our impression, 2h was just too little for maximum scoring on DI if you wanted to maximally score on all questions. We expect that quite many candidates skipped the PCT-representation question (8 marks, equiv to 24 minutes): if you did, the DI-part could be done well within 2h while aiming to get 20-25 marks.

We had expected shorter questions such that a similar number of topics could be tested as in earlier years. However, the questions had about the same length as before in number of marks/ time available: the DI 2013 had six questions, of which two 8-mark (24 min) and one 7-mark (21 min) question, compared to eight questions in DI 2012, including two 6-mark (27 min) and two 5-mark (22-23 min) questions, and similar in DI 2011. A single topic would thus relatively attract, or loose, a relatively larger amount of marks. Further, it is not yet known how the exam committee will award marks: if you still need two statements for 1 mark, you would now need to write these two statements within 3 minutes compared to 4.5 minutes in the old DI. It can thus not be the same type of statement – how will/did this work out?  


In our impression, the DII could (and if you did spend 2h15 on DI, should) be done in 2h45. If you had skipped Q.5 of DI, you could afford to spend 3:15. Although challenging for everybody under the time constraints of the exam, the DII was subject-matter-wise not as complex as some of other recent DII-papers and also the legal issues were quite do-able. If you were well-trained, 30-35 marks should be possible. However, you should have been careful not to spend too long on analysis – make the time-line quick and starts answering while you develop your view on the paper.

The DII had quite many small issues and hints thereto, many of which could be dealt with separately. The knock-on effect of missing an issue or wrongly dealing with an issue also seem better controlled: there were two potential non-prejudicial disclosure guiding you to an Art.55 discussion, two applications from your competitor with “stolen” matter guiding you to an Art.61 discussion as well as an explicit reference to an obligation of secrecy by Mr.Serrano.

Quite a few, clear questions, wherein you were explicitly asked to address the patent situation as-is for each type of protrusions, any improvements in particular as to the opposition, exploitation as-is (freedom to operate for your client; stopping the competitor from selling) and improvements thereto.
Your impression?

What is your impression, especially if you sat the exam and now look back? How do you think it compared to earlier exams, and did the D-paper meet your expectations as to the format?

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Jelle, Roel


  1. Note: First time sitter

    I have always considered the new format to be an advantage, because of the possibility to swap DI time for DII time or vice versa if desired.

    If you consider the time management difficult or stressing under exam conditions, just make a rule for yourself about when to switch, stick to it, and you’ll be no worse off than under the old system.

    My plan was to use 2.45 for DII, then circa 1.5 for DI, and then 30-45 minutes review both DII and DI, picking up points by inserting relevant statements such as conditions that have to be valid, refunds, alternatives etc.

    DII in 2.45 was just about OK, but just a single pass, not noting down several likely point-worthy remarks in the rush.

    For DI however, I needed a full 2 hrs, and even a bit more, for a single round of answering.

    I just had about 10 minutes for a general review, which was insufficient, and which I was counting on for at least 10-15 points.

    Especially with DII, I find I need time to get ‘into’ the fictive case, to understand the basics of it, before writing down any answer. This time, let’s say 30-60 minutes, is fairly independent of the complexity of the case (extreme cases aside, obviously).

    So, for me at least, a reduction in complexity, in situations to deal with, is certainly not linear with a reduction in time needed for a decent answer.

    In summary, my opinion, compared to earlier exams (done under practice conditions)

    DI: Harder than expected, but this is in retrospect likely rather due to slight underpreparation on my part than to objective difficulty, so overall: fair and good Qs.

    DII: On the easy side of the normal distribution of the old DIIs, but insufficient to compensate for 25% less time, so overall: more challenging than usual, without being extreme.


  2. I share Kuifje's view to a large extent. I nearly spent 2.15 on DI and 2.45 on DII. I consistently spent 3min/mark to ensure that I had time to look at all issues.

    D1 had a good mixture of subject-matter including 15 marks relating to PCT, which was pretty fair since D11 did not include any PCT issues at all. So, only 15 marks of 100 marks relating to PCT (provided that I did not miss anything).

    The major issue I had with paper D 2013 was the length of the questions in DI and all information in D11. This should not come as an surprise, but it was tougher this year to deal with it since (proportionally) less time is available for writing the answers. At least it felt like this during the exam. By having this format, it feels that you are spending most of your time on reading and analyzing the information instead of getting the opportunity to provide a decent written legal answer. The paper D was reduced in terms of number of questions and DII information compared to previous 7h papers. However, in 2013, it felt that you got punished twice since too much time spent on a D1 question also resulted in less time in DII. I have practiced 6-7 old D papers, and for me personally it is a huge difference in starting on DII with fresh energy and new time instead of consistently being under time pressure. I have passed A, B and C which also involved a lot of time pressure, but I felt the lack of time in paper D 2013 to be more devastating for your performance. One reason might be that it is nearly impossible to answer questions in the DII case until your reading/analysis is completed. Hence, the legal written advice was inevitably affected in terms of length and content, which is extremely annoying when you have identified a lot of potential issues to deal with.

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  4. Note: First time sitter, wrote the Exam in German

    I agree to the above views. The level of difficulty was fair, but it was not possible to answer every question decently within the given 5 hours.

    I did a lot of deltapatents questions, the CEIPI Seminar, and D papers from 2005 to 2012 (under examination conditions) and I always had about 30 minutes left for each part (DI and DII) for double-checking at the end. This was not the case this year, unfortunately. I answered every questions, however, did some stupid mistakes due to the enormous time pressure.

    I hope there will be a new rating system, like one full mark for a certain statement not only half a mark. In my opinion, this is the only way you can justify the reduced time from seven to five hours.

  5. It would be interesting to know about the results of the above commentators. Does the felt time pressure reflect in the markings for you?

    Peter S. from Germany

  6. I have no problem sharing my results: DI circa 75%, DII circa 60%.

    I considered the final result of DII to be at the top end of my realistic assessment at the time. I was, in retrospect, much gloomier than justified wrt DI, where I was expecting 40-50% in the days after the exam, having seen Delta Patent's model.

    So, no, the time pressure felt did not reflect in the markings, I am veeeeeeery pleased to say.