What's hot at the EQE online forum


EPC Flashcards

One of the Blog readers sent me "EPC Flashcards" earlier today. Not knowing exactly how to use it the following explanation was given:

"EPC flashcards may be used for studying/memorising the EPC. Here is how it works:

You print out the cards (front and back, the topic on the front should line up with the corresponding topic on the back) then cut them out.

They cards are convenient for studying because you can either do it yourself (you look at the front or back, then try to say what is on the other side) or else with someone else. They hold the card, read you the first part, then you have to say the other part and they check whether or not it is correct.

For example, they pick a card "Article 54" then you have to say what is on the other side "Novelty" then they say correct or incorrect. Then you can put the ones you got correct in one pile, and the ones incorrect in another pile, then go though the incorrect ones again until you get more and more correct.

They are useful because you can take them anywhere, such as when you are waiting for the bus, or at the doctor's office, etc., you just take them out and flip through them."

Download the EPC Flashcards here.


News from the EQE-online forum

The European Patent Academy plans to publish a set of commented answers to the EQE 2009 on the EQE-online forum. With the following announcement, they plan to get some 2009 candidate's answers which are handed over to CEIPI tutors for selection and addition of their comments. The set of commented answer papers will be made available on the forum.

Click here to read the full announcement.

Click here for the forum.


How about this?

I've done some experimenting with Google Docs over the weekend and found out that this platform has some very cool features. One such feature of particular interest is that several people can work on one and the same document at the same time. The interesting part is that each editor can (with a delay of a few seconds at most) see what the others are doing. In fact, you can even see who is editing at any particular time.

This opens up the possibility for making tools that can be developed, edited, corrected continuously. The only two things that are required are internet access and a Google account. You can make text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. So you could envisage a free, editable, (hopefully) updated version of (an annotated)  EPC and/or PCT, which is available online 24/7. Or, what about presentations/ flowcharts on specific topics or parts of the law....

This all sounds very nice of course, but developing all this material requires time. So, I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in contributing to such "online projects". Keep in mind that the more people that join, the less each person has to do/type.

Please send me an e-mail if you'd like to contribute..


New tool available: EPC Keyword Guide

Today, for the first time since the start of this Blog, I received a tool by one of the readers of this Blog which he would like to share.

The tool does basically the opposite of the EPC Quickreference posted earlier. The Quickreference lists the EPC Articles and Rules sorted by number and each Article or Rule is followed by a few keywords. The "EPC Keyword Guide" shows in alphabetical order keywords followed by the respective Article or Rule. Special thanks to Nèstor Corominas for sending this tool, who in his e-mail added the following sentence :

"Free software" philosophy is not something so easy to find among our colleagues. I know EQE is a hard test, but I do not think that not sharing information bring the candidates further!

Download the EPC Keyword Guide here.


T 0756/06: Technical and non-technical features in one claim

This case concerns the way the EPO deals with claims which contain both technical and non-technical features and provides a nice summary of the case law. The Board reasons (R 4 and 5):

It is established jurisprudence that such claims are inventions in the sense of Article 52(1) and (2) EPC, but that the non-technical features cannot support the presence of inventive step (Article 56 EPC). Technical features are generally considered to be those that produce a technical effect.

In practice in such cases, one of two approaches is generally followed. 

In the first approach, e.g. apparent from T 931/95 [..] there is an initial analysis of the technical character of the features of the claim and then a consideration of the inventive step of only those features. 
This approach is typically used for inventions that are essentially business methods running on more or less notoriously known computer hardware. 

The second approach, e.g. used in T 641/00 [..] is a more conventional application of the problem and solution approach where the differences with respect to the closest prior art are determined and only those that  contribute to the technical character are considered for inventive step. 
This approach may be more appropriate where the technical part is more substantial and/or relevant prior art exists. It has the advantage that any non-technical feature known from this prior art will not appear as a difference and does not need to be considered in the subsequent steps, thus sparing the step of judging whether it makes a technical  contribution. Furthermore, this approach is less abstract since the claimed features can be analysed against concrete prior art.

You may want to print this part of the decision and take it with you to the C exam ....


PCT Newsletter - October 2009 (No. 10/2009)

The latest issue of the PCT Newsletter (No. 10/2009) is now available on the PCT Resources page in:

PDF at: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pctndocs/en/2009/pct_news_2009_10.pdf

The practical advice relates to restoration of priority right under Rule 26bis.3. Questions with respect to restoration of the priority right come up in the EQE every now and then.
As always, the PCT summary will be updated, see the downloads section...


New domain for EQETools

From today you can access this Blog also via www.eqetools.com

Case studies on the EQE forum

For those wanting to practise a D2 like case, there is one available from the EQE forum, see here.

The post says that an answer will be posted in the near future ....


T 1382/04: Request for oral proceedings sufficient for pendency of application

Rule 100 EPC , relating to Appeal proceedings is as follows:
(1) ...
(2) In the examination of the appeal, the Board of Appeal shall invite the parties, as often as necessary, to file observations, within a period to be specified, on communications issued by itself or observations submitted by another party.
(3) If the applicant fails to reply in due time to an invitation under paragraph 2, the European patent application shall be deemed to be withdrawn, unless the decision impugned was taken by the Legal Division.

In this case the applicant appealed against the decision of the Examining Division refusing his application. The board issued a communication under Rule 100(2). Failure to reply to such an invitation would result in deemed withdrawal according to Rule 100(3). The application replied by merely requesting oral proceedings, hence the Board considered the question whether or not the request (which was filed in due time) met the requirements of Rule 100(2). The Board reasoned as follows:

Reason 1.1: Historically, the legal instrument of a deemed withdrawal was introduced for administrative reasons as a means to save resources of patent offices and courts in cases where the applicant or appellant has clearly lost its interest in prosecuting an application [..]

Reason 1.2 : In the present case, the Board considers the request for oral proceedings which was received within the time limit for filing observations as a reply avoiding a deemed withdrawal under Rule 100(3) EPC since it cannot be assumed that the appellant has lost his interest in the application while requesting oral proceedings at the same time, apparently with a view to present his comments on the Board's arguments orally.

Thus, the Board concurs with a corresponding finding in decision T 861/03 (point 6.2 of the reasons).

Read the decision here.


Read the question ...

Question 8 of D1 2009 was one of few questions where I lost about half of the marks available. I recently read the answer I handed in and compared it to the model answer taking into account the remarks made in the Examiner's report.

The question was as follows:

QUESTION 8 (5 points)
A European patent application AP1 was duly filed on 23 February 2008 claiming priority from earlier application PR1 filed on 24 March 2007. Application AP1, as originally filed, contained 30 claims. At the search stage a non-unity objection was raised. The applicant paid one further search fee. The subject-matter of all claims was searched. Application AP1 is still pending. Today, 3 March 2009, the applicant files a divisional application using form 1001. The divisional application contains a set of claims 1 to 20, which  correspond to claims 11 to 30 originally filed in AP1. Claims 1 to 20 of the divisional application relate to the second invention already searched in AP1.

What fees are due on filing and until when can these fees be paid? What is the legal basis for the amounts of these fees?

Not a particularly difficult question it seemed.

However what I wrote down did not answer the question. More in particular (probably like many fellow candidates) I explained which fees needed to be paid. Because of that, I did not mention designation fees and examination fees. 

However, the question was which fees were due which is different (yet may overlap) from the question which fees had to be paid.

As you all know (!?) the term "due date" has a special menaing in the EPC, namely the first day on which payment of a fee may be validly effected, not the last day of a period for such payment, see Guidelines
A-XI 5.1.1

Since the applicant used form 1001, payment of the examination and designation fees was due on filing. (Although they could be paid until 6m after the date on which the EP bulletin mentions the publication of
the search report, see Rule 70(1) and Rule 39(1).)

So, always be alert on the wording of the question and keep in mind that (most of the time) all information in a question is there for a reason !
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