What's hot at the EQE online forum


EQE Study Guide

Recently the European Patent Office published a study guide for EQE candidates. This "Guide for preparation" contains quite some practical information on the EQE and provides a rough timing schedule on how to prepare for the EQE.

The publication is available electronically via the eqe-online website  and as a hardcopy at the EPO.

The EPO allowed me to publish a copy on this website, which you can download here.

Happy reading !


Size matters !

The D exam is difficult in many ways. One of the things you may overlook at this moment is the fact that you will take an enormous amount of your study material to the EQE. You will probably only need two or three references at the most but "just in case" you find yourself carrying more weight in paperwork than a single backpack can carry....

This is just a small piece of advice to those who are now using the full-size version of the Guidelines and are making annotations and/or highlighting parts thereof. The advice is to stop using this full size version while you still can and to print the 5 parts of the Guidelines in the form of A5 booklets. You can download the parts for free from the EPO website, so it will only cost you some time (and maybe a bit of money) to make the booklets.

For the exam itself it is not really an issue, yet for travelling to the examination centres size does matter !


Update of PCT applicant's guide

The WIPO has published an updated version of the applicant's guide. The applicant's guide is quite a useful guide for learning/ understanding the PCT. It is advisable to take a copy of the latest version to the EQE. Please keep in mind that it will not help you to "just take it" without having looked at how the guide works. In the exam there is simply no time to start looking for an answer. You should basically already know approximately where you could find the answer and then use the (detailed) index to find it. Of course this guide should be used in addition to the official PCT Articles and Rules. I can further recommend taking a look at the book of Cees Mulder in that respect.

In the EQE 2009 there were not a lot of PCT related questions (luckily), but you never know if this is the start of a trend or not.....

Download the Applicant's Guide here.


EQETools celebrates 10000 pageloads

Today the EQETools Blog reached 10.000 pageloads !

Since the start of the Blog earlier this year this number of pageloads was reached by +/- 4000 unique visitors (according to Statcounter.com).

This post is to say "thanks" to all of you that visit the Blog or read the feeds every now and then. The still increasing number of visitors and pageloads per day is inspiring.

Next stop: 100.000 pageloads !


New Blogs on the block

Two new Blogs have recently started, both of these may be worthwhile following in preparing for the EQE.

Salted Patent

K's Law

Happy reading !


Tool for B

I received several requests for paper B tools lately.
The situation is that the summary I used myself consisted of printed material, handwritten notes and some course material. I am working on an "A type" tool using the above mentioned materials, but this will take some more time.

For those wondering "what about C", I'm afraid I have to disappoint you. I used copyright protected course material and some notes....that's it.

(For those wondering why I keep doing this at all.........I'm asking myself the same question from time to time and the answer is that I still don't know.)


PCT Newsletter #9 available for download

The September issue of the PCT Newsletter is available for download here.

The Practical Advice will be copied to the PCT Newsletter summary.


Notice relating to filing by reference

The EPO issued a Notice on the website relating to the filing of a certified copy when an application is filed by reference.

Filing by reference is allowed under Rule 40(1), but the applicant is required to file a certified copy of the previous application under Rule 40(3). If such a copy is not filed the “application” is not accorded a filing date, see Rule 40(1). Further processing under Article 121(1) is not available, however the applicant may request re-establishment under Article 122(1). If no filing date is accorded the application shall not be dealt with as a European Patent Application, Article 90(2). According to Rule 40(3) last sentence, R53(2), relating to the filing of a priority document, applies mutatis mutandis.

The notice concerns the situation where the EPO already has a copy of the earlier application in it’s files. Filing of a certified copy is not required if the previous application is:

(a) a European patent application,
(b) an international application filed with the European Patent Office as receiving Office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT),
(c) a Japanese patent or utility model application,
(d) a Korean patent or utility model application,
(e) a United States provisional or non-provisional patent application.

See the decision in OJ 2009, 236 copied in the OJ 2009 Summary.

Please note that the decision in the above mentioned OJ reference replaces the decision dated 12 July 2007 on the filing of priority documents (Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, B.1). If necessary update your reference books !

So, what’s the lesson here? Well, failure to file a priority document will not have any effect on a later application other than loss of the priority right. Failure to file the “reference” application will result in that the later application will not be treated as a European Patent Application. As a filing date was not accorded it is not possible to file a new application and claim priority from this "later application". (I hope this is not too confusing)


Do the new compensation rules lower the bar for passing D ?

This is a post for discussion purpose !

Under the "old" rules for examination you could compensate for an exam where you scored between 45 and 49 marks if you scored more than 200 points in total, you were a first-sitter and passed the other three papers.

The "new" Rules are as follows:

Rule 6: Grades/passing the examination

(1) Each answer paper shall be marked on a scale from zero to 100 by the relevant Examination Committee.
(a) Where, on the merits of an answer paper, a mark of 50 or more is awarded, a PASS grade shall be awarded for that paper.
(b) Where, on the merits of an answer paper, fewer than 45 marks are awarded, a FAIL grade shall be awarded for that paper.
(c) Where, on the merits of an answer paper, a mark of at least 45 but less than 50 is awarded, the grade awarded for that paper shall be COMPENSABLE FAIL.

(2) Subject to Article 14(2) REE, a candidate shall be declared to have passed the  examination if he satisfies all of the following conditions:
(a) he has not been awarded a FAIL grade in any of the papers,
(b) he has been awarded a PASS grade in at least two papers, and
(c) his total aggregate mark in the four papers set out in Rule 21 is at least 200.

(3) [not shown]

The "first sitter" requirement seems to have been deleted, which to me makes sense as all four papers cover different aspects of the work of a Patent Attorney.

Anyhow, suppose a candidate scores the following:

A: 80 points (pass)
B: 30 points (fail)
C: 50 points (pass)
D: 45 points (compensable fail)

Under the "old" rules (as I understand it, please correct me if I'm wrong) this candidate had to resit both B and D.

However, the new rules seem to allow this candidate to resit only paper B in order for him to pass all four papers. Even if he would only score 50 points for paper B, he can compensate his D paper with the results for his A paper.

In another example, even when the candidate would have scored 45 points for both C and D, he seems to allowed to pass all papers by resitting only paper B.

Since in most cases scores for paper A and/or B are probably rather high (that is >60) the new system effectively seems to lower the bar for the more difficult (and from a preparation point of view extremely time consuming) paper D to 45 marks.

As I started this post it is for discussion purposes, and above that I may have missed an article or rule that renders the above example complete nonsense...... Anyway, your comments are welcome.

Read the Regulations here.

EPO resources for the EQE

Did you know there is EQE training material available from the EPO website?

See here for a list with questions and here for a forum.

I also added these to the "Links" section on this website.

14th Edition of the National Law Table available

Please note that a new version of the National Law Table (14th edition) is available.
The publication is free of charge and can be ordered from csc@epo.org or by placing a request at the following link:

The NatLaw table is one of the items you definetely want to take to the EQE, especially for the D paper. Using outdated material is not really appreciated by the exam committee, so make sure your information resources are up to date!


Site maintenance

In the next few weeks I will be integrating the download site with the Blog. This has the advantage for you that you no longer need to browse through the seperate download website but instead can download all tools directly from this Blog. This may however mean that documents are not be available for a short time or that links no longer work properly. Please send me an e-mail in case you come across such a "broken link".


T0998/06: Undisclosed disclaimers and clarity

The patentee in opposition proceedings introduced an undisclosed disclaimer in view of prior art under Art 54(3) which as you all know (!?) is allowed in view of G1/03. The patent was maintained in amended form by the opposition division and the patentee filed appeal against the decision.

In view of the Board the disclaimer contains several features that give rise to clarity objections:

First of all the disclaimer contains "product-by-process" type features. The question arises whether the process features result in a product that differs from a product having the same composition (in this case a polymer product) yet being made with a different proces. The Board concludes that neither the patent nor the prior art gives any relevant information in that respect. Thus, in view of the Board it is unclear for the public whether the process steps for making the product are essential (notwendig) or not. Thus, it is unclear what part of the scope of the claim is actually disclaimed.

Secondly the disclaimer lacks clarity in that the method for measuring a certain parameter is not incoirporated in the disclaimer. (Although apparently there was basis in the prior art for the introduction thereof...).

Thirdly the disclaimer refers to components being present in certain "parts" (Teile) without defining whether it concerns volume, weight or any other type of "parts".

The above clarity issues are not really specific to disclaimers. That said, when introducing undisclosed disclaimers a patentee (or applicant), in view of the other requirements of G1/03, is likely to keep the claim language as close as possible to the actual disclosure of the 54(3) prior art. For example, it would be interesting to know what would have happened if the patentee would have introduced the prior art compositions without the process steps. My guess is that such a claim would be objected to as excluding more than necessary. Here again the patentee cannot rely on the prior art nor on its own disclosure for arguing this is not the case....

In G1/03, reason 3, the Enlarged Board noted that the requirements of consiseness and clarity of Art. 84 are also applicable to claims containing disclaimers.
Hence, the appeal was dismissed.

Read more on undisclosed disclaimers here, here and here.


Official Journal #8 and #9

In view of my holidays probably one of the shortests posts on this Blog:

The Official Journal Summary 2009 has been updated and is available for download.
Click here.

Basic D2 tools

Making a "timeline" is one of the things you simply have to do when doing the D2 paper. There are many different ways of making such a timeline and you should choose the one you like best. In the download area I published a very (very very very) basic timeline template, designed to be printed on A3 paper. I wrote the "client events" on the right-hand-side and all the rest on the left-hand-side. Most recent events on the top of the page.

Also in the downloads area a very (very very very) basic "ready to use" subject matter matrix template. To be honest I only used this for practising. I found it more convenient to have all the information on 1 sheet. So when doing my last two "trial" papers and my actual D2 EQE 2009 exam I only used the timeline template. It does make the sheet a bit "messy" yet it worked for me as you have read before ....

Anyway, two extremely basic tools, yet I hope it is of use.
Download here.


How to read decisions ...

Subtitled: "When preparing for the European Qualifying Examination"

This article relates mainly to decisions from the Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (the "T" decisions) yet probably applies to other decisions as well. The task of knowing and learning the Articles and Rules of the EPC is already quite time consuming so you may find it helpful to try the way of reading decisions further outlined below. I used this method myself during my preparation and still use it for the purpose of this Blog.

1. Browse through the front page to see what the decision is about; Relevant legal provisions, keywords, catchword, etc.

2. Determine which kind of decision is appealed (Examining Division, Opposition Division) and find out who is who. This can be found on the next one or two pages.

3. For the time being, skip the "Summary of Facts and Submissions" and go directly to the "Reasons".

4. Start reading from the "Reasons" yet don't try to understand all the "case specific" details unless they are necessary for understanding the case, which is not always obvious by the way. Normally I just skip all the details about the case until the Board summarises and concludes on a certain aspect. From reading the conclusion it usually becomes apparent if further reading of the details is required or not (at this point you may need to go back to the "Summary of Facts and Submissions").

Tip: When legal provisions are referred to, always read these provisions (again). This will help you in getting the EPC "in your system".

5. Read through the "Reasons" for each issue. Make notes where necessary and don't forget to have a yellow marker around. Be alert when the Board reasons "beyond" the specific subject matter of the case. This is often where the Board either may create new case law or summarise established case law.

6. Scan the "Order"

That's it !

Depending on the case, the number of issues to be dealt and your experience with reading decisions this process can take anywhere from 5 - 60 minutes.

The question that may arise is whether you have to read a lot of decisions in preparing for the EQE. I don't have the definitive answer to that, yet I do advise you to read at least a few (whatever that means). Of course the EPO case law book and many other resources provide overviews and summaries of (established) case law, all of which can be used. I personally did not find the case law book very suitable for studying and used "Visser" and (to a lesser extent) "Hoekstra" as my main sources. I have not seen/tried any other sources by the way ...

Hopefully in addition to what is already out there you can use the case law summaries I post on this Blog every now and then. Likewise the French "European Patent Case Law Blog" provides summaries and discussion of the Boards of Appeal case law.

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