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Thursday, 1 July 2010

The EQE "Pre-Exam" - Who Needs It?

A concerned reader has written to the IPKat with the following:

"I’m having trouble obtaining information on the new “pre-examination” for the EQE and wondered if any enlightened Kats know how it is going to work. It would appear that this new exam is due to be held in 2012 for the first time, and can be taken by those with at least 2 years relevant experience. By then I will have had 3 years experience, and would have been expecting to take the usual A, B, C and D papers without any pre-exam. But do I now have to take the pre-exam in 2012, before taking the real exams in 2013, extending my minimum qualification time by a year? Or, as suggested by one particular reader in a previous IPKat post, will this be a transitional year? That is, will those with 3 years experience, who could have enrolled for the usual papers, be able to enrol for the proper exams without having to take the pre-exam? I note that the EPO website is resplendent with exam information, but seems rather silent on this point.
I also note that the CIPA Journal, April 2010, had a short piece on the pre-exam on p217, however the “clarification” that “as long as you are already in the EQE system by 2012, you do not need to take the Preliminary Examination” doesn’t really clarify anything for me, because I am not sure what being in the EQE system means – does it mean that I must have already taken some exams before 2012 or does it mean that I must have enrolled by July 2011 for the first ones to be taken in March 2012?"
The IPKat and his various helpers are unfortunately unable to provide a clear answer to this question.  Can any readers help?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should be careful when calculating your three years' experience. When I took the EQE all those years ago, the QMW Certificate course never used to count towards your three years' experience, for example.

Jeremy Smith said...

http://archive.epo.org/epo/pubs/oj010/03_10/03_sup10a.pdf

Article 25
Transitional provisions
...
(4) Candidates shall be exempted from the pre-examination according to Article 1(7) of this Regulation provided that:
(a) either they have been successfully enrolled for an examination before the first pre-examination is held, or
(b) when the pre-examination is held for the first time, they have successfully applied for enrolment for the first time and fulfil the requirements of Article 11(1) to (6) of this Regulation.

Rule 10
Pre-examination
(1) A pre-examination shall be held for the first time in 2012.

Anonymous said...

The regulations can be found at:

http://archive.epo.org/epo/pubs/oj010/03_10/03_sup10a.pdf or
http://tiny.cc/pf630.

See Article 25(4)(b) and Article 11. My understanding is that if you have three years experience by the time of the exams in 2012 then you are eligible to take the full examination in 2012.

Anonymous said...

I am an EPI Tutor for the EQE. I attended the EPI Tutor's meeting in 2009, where the proposed EQE "pre-examination" was raised.
From memory:
- The "pre-examination" starts in 2012
- Unless a candidate has already started sitting the EQE in 2011 or earlier.
However, in view of this question, I took another look at my notes from the meeting and found that exemption from the pre-examination is provided "if earlier enrolled OR COMPLETED 3 YEARS OF TRAINING IN 2012 (Article 25(4) new Regulation on the EQE)"

Anonymous said...

In perfect EQE style, what appears to be the answer is buried in a fairly obscure Decision:

http://www.epo.org/patents/law/legal-texts/decisions/archive/20081210.html (Decision of the Administrative Council of 10 December 2008 amending the Regulation on the European qualifying examination for professional representatives before the European Patent Office).

Article 25(4): Candidates shall be exempted from the pre-examination according to Article 1(7) of this Regulation provided that:

(a) either they have been successfully enrolled for an examination before the first pre-examination is held, or

(b) when the pre-examination is held for the first time, they have successfully applied for enrolment for the first time and fulfil the requirements of Article 11(1) to (6) of this Regulation.

So it sounds as if your concerned reader should be able to avoid the pre-examination by enrolling for the 2012 EQE and relying on 25(4)(b).

The cut-off to join the profession to avoid the pre-exam appears to have been about March 2009.

Derk Visser said...

In a lecture in Strasbourg in May 2009 Mr. Machwirth of the examination secretariat told that if a candidate has completed three years of training or more before the eqe 2012, he may sit that exam without pre-exam. If you want to have certainty, write a letter to the secretariat.

Pete Pollard said...

Some of the answers are in the regulations, but they are not that clear.

EQE 2012 will be a transitional year.

First-time sitters in 2012:
1) Those with 3 years experience at the date of the exam may take the EQE "old-style" (basically the exam as it is now). If you enrol for at least 1 exam in 2012, you are "in the system" and never have to do the pre-exam. Following the letter of the regulations, it does not appear that you have to sit an exam to be "in the system", just enrol. I would recommend sitting at least 1 exam to be sure you are "in".

2) Those with only 2 years experience may start on their exams by taking the pre-exam. The pre-exam is basically a piece (DI and A/B elements) of the EQE "old-style" that has been taken out and can be taken a year earlier.
If succesful, they may take the rest of the exams - EQE "new-style" - in 2013

Re-sitters in 2012:
Having taken an exam prior to 2012, you are also in the system. You never have to take the pre-exam. SO in 2012, you resit the relevant EQE "old-style" paper.If you do not pass, you will have to sit the relevant EQE "new-style" paper in 2013.

The EPO provides a very good and very quick helpdesk for EQE questions. I would always recommend checking with them to be certain because the regulations are complicated.

Send them an e-mail: eqe@epo.org

For anyone looking to do the pre-exam in 2012 (with 2 years experience), things are a little uncertain because it is not completely clear what you need to know for it. More details are promised for October.
Based on everything that I have heard, the mock pre-exam, and some background given at the CEIPI tutor's meeting in June, I am assuming it will be multiple choice (has to be marked quickly), it will have DI and A/B elements, requiring a solid legal training in the basic EPC/PCT system (a lower level than the current D paper, with possibly less case law to be tested)and an A/B level about the same as the A/B exams now (no claim drafting, but able to judge the patentability of claims provided, and to accurately apply problem solution approach).

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