The IPKat has been alerted to a change in format for the EQE (the qualifying exam to become a European Patent Attorney), thanks to Bart van Wezenbeek of V.O. Patents & Trademarks, who learnt of it last week at a meeting between EPO exam committee members and the EPO tutors, where it apparently created quite a stir .
|The EQE: apparently 7,000 candidates have passed |
it since 1979, so Merpel reasons it can't be that hard, can it?
With effect from 2017, a single Paper A and a single Paper B will be set each year. As for current Paper C and the Pre-Examination, Papers A and B will be set in technical fields that are accessible to everyone.
Bart wondered aloud to the IPKat if UK chemists/life scientists might share their thoughts on whether this change is desirable? Well, no sooner had the IPKat begun drafting this post than he received an email from an eminent UK chemical patent attorney who prefers to remain anonymous, and who says:
It seems to me that this will place chemistry/pharmaceutical/
biotechnology specialists at a great disadvantage. Indeed, many of those of us whose training experience is solely in those fields currently exercise the option to opt out of UK papers P3 and P4 and sit the chemical EQE papers (though I realise that the UK exemption is currently under debate).
Also today, a blog post has appeared on the CIPA Informals site where the change is again discussed and views have been sought:
For those of us in private practice, it may be relatively straightforward to pick up some simple mechanical drafting experience – though one would have to question whether it is a cost-effective or ethical use of clients’ time and money to hand drafting work to trainees who are non-mechanically inclined and who will not, ultimately, specialise in that subject matter. (The “generalist” patent attorney seems largely to be a thing of the past now, at least as far as new trainees in the larger firms are concerned).
For those training in-house in industry – say in petrochemical companies or big pharma – I foresee huge problems afoot. Where are they expected to gain mechanical drafting and prosecution experience?
You may recall that IPReg launched a consultation earlier this year in which they proposed removing UK papers P3 and P4. They believed that more UK trainees sit EQE Papers A and B and then claim exemptions from the ‘equivalent’ UK exams (P3 and P4), and thus, the UK papers were redundant. (See our previous post about this here.)
The Informals have sent an email to IPReg today (16 October) informing them about this change. We note that this is an example of how we in the UK should not be so reliant on the EQEs as a means to dual-qualifying as UK and EP attorneys, because the EPO implements changes to the exams without any sort of public consultation. Moreover, it is questionable whether the EQE drafting and amendment papers test the same skills as the UK papers, particularly in recent years.
What do you all think? Are you a trainee who is affected by this change? Will your supervisors be able to train you on how to prepare for mechanical drafting and amendment papers? Or did they also only sit the Chemical EQE Papers A and B, and not P3 and P4? Feel free to comment on the blog, via Twitter (@CIPAYellowSheet) or by email.