What should you take with you to the EQEs?

IPKat reader and ukpatents member Charlie Ashworth, a trainee patent attorney in the Channel Islands, writes with a question about the dreaded European Qualifying Examinations (EQEs), which are coming around again in a couple of months. Charlie says, "I have never before taken open book exams, and am a bit baffled with where to start with what to take in.  The EPO website lists every text book going, but I am sure for those in the know there are prefered texts to arm yourself with!".

(right: the traditional Alderney pastime of wearing fancy umbrellas)

Fellow EQE-taker David has replied with a list of texts that he used in his first (partially successful) attempt last year, which includes the ubiquitous Visser, as well as the less well known (and highly recommended) PCT book by Cees Mulder.  He has also recommended his own cross-referenced EPC, which is available for free from the IPKat's google groups website.  

The IPKat wonders if any of his readers, perhaps those who are preparing to take the EQEs this time round, or who have taken (and preferably passed) them in the past couple of years, have any further useful suggestions for things (and not just books!) to take to the exams with you. 
What should you take with you to the EQEs? What should you take with you to the EQEs? Reviewed by David Pearce on Friday, January 09, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. For opposition, take caffeinated drinks and food, and make sure you eat the stuff.

    Simon (who failed Paper C first time because I nearly fell asleep)

  2. Passed everything in one go in 2001, using the latest versions of: Visser, PCT applicants guide, EPO Caselaw book, Guidelines for Examination and the Booklet on EPC National law. Brought a lot of other stuff as well like all OJ's of the last year (for latest case law), the EPC and PCT official texts, and dictionaries for the official languages and your native language, but didn't use them.

    By the way, to me it doesn't make sense to bring a book or any material that you never ever looked at before. You wouldn't be able to find anything in there.

    Marking up your Visser with textmarkers, post-its, labels and such is not such a waste of time as by doing so you make yourself familiar with the structure of the book; very helpful for finding stuff again.

  3. Apart from the usual stuff (Visser, Guidelines, white books, PCT Arts & Regs, past papers, etc) I found it useful to 'tab-up' Visser so I could jump to the indicated sections more easily, and also (because finding something by reference to Visser's index is not always easy) make my own Index based on Visser's but including cross-referenced info for both EPC and PCT, from the Guidelines, past exam papers, the online academy questions and other sources - particularly handy with the law paper (D) when you see something similar to a past paper but can't remember where.

  4. Successful candidates recommend "C-Book" Subtitle: "How to write a successful opposition and pass paper C of the European Qualifying Examination"
    by Bill Chandler and Hugo Meinders (CEIPI).

  5. 1. If you're not perfectly fluent in the language in which you take the exam, plus at least one of the other OLs, bring a dictionary.

    2. A tip I got and thankfully followed: Bring a number of pens of varying grip sizes. Towards the end of day 3, your fingers will start to hurt...

    3. Take a flu shot. You don't want to be in bed with a fever on exam day.

    (Passed on first sitting in 2003)

  6. Great question. I wish it had been posted last year. I panicked that I didn't have everything. Apparently I had enough with me to pass them all though.

    Other stuff that will save time:

    Lists by year of which countries were in the EPO.

    Lists of all the types of claim you can have if your are doing Chemistry paper A.

    Calendars with EPO closed days from the last few years highlighted.

    A ruddy great sheet of paper and coloured pens to draw a time line for paper D2.

    A copy of whatever form you'll be filling to work out your attacks in paper C.

    A filled in example notice of opposition, and ideally a few pages with stock phrases tht you can chuck into your opposition answer paper for C.

    And an idea of where to look for the answers. In general in D1 (except PCT questions) I went in this order:

    1.Visser (tabbed of course)
    3.Caselaw/ancilliary regulations/Natlaw
    4.Forget it and on to the next question

    Of course you'll need the EPO special edition 3 of 2007 to top up the an-regs.

    Also, printing off your own copy of guidelines duplexed and two pages to a side will help you see more and fit more on your desk if you can still read it, doing the same to Mulder and the applicant's guide was useful to me too.

    I almost gave up Visser for Hoechstra after people said that Visser was only so good for past papers because he updated after the exams, but he got me 71%, so don't believe it.

    If you are going to use Hoeckstra/Simon Roberts book as well/instead of Visser, its probably important to work out where you will look first. From my point of view it seemed making a choice of one of them was better than looking in all three.

    I would finally say that rather than leaving behind books you have never ever looked at before I'd suggest taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with their contents and index pages and having them with you just in case. However, don't spend time you could be using on a different question looking for the answer in a book you don't know.

    Oh yeah, you'll also want bulldog clips to keep the prior art documents in paper C separate. I had to borrow these last year, but was geeky enough to have already prepared different coloured post its labelled D1, D2, D3, D4, D5 and D6 to stick on them.

    Finally, a bag with wheels on - experience (someone elses) proves you don't want to be dosed up on cocodomol in Paper C after putting your back out carrying books.

  7. I found Hoekstra better than Visser due to the rules being next to the Articles. I also found it presented the information so it was quicker to find than Visser for the exam.

    PCT applicant's guide came in handy, as did the sections of that on the individual countries and offices. I printed that, the guidelines, national law and other things on A5 so they took up less space.

    As has been said, different coloured pens and highlighters for annotation.

    I took a ring-binder with dividers for the different documents in amendment/opposition - this meant no risk of dropping things.

  8. One not to forget - PASSPORT!!

    I forgot mine last year and had to get it couriered down the M5 from Birmingham, at a cost of £70. I'm just glad my wife was at home to sort it out while I was in the exam...

  9. Dear lord!... whatever happened to just knowing your stuff?
    (passed 1993)

  10. Iain Ross of CIPA emailed to say:

    "CIPA has recently published a useful guide on how to pass the EQEs. It was sent out free with the December CIPA Journall but can also be purchased for £10 a copy.

    We also have the second edition of the Nicholas Fox book, a Guide to the EPC that would help. This is also available in French and German.
    See details at: http://www.cipa.org.uk/pages/info-textbooks"

  11. And Eric Siecker has written to recommend the following book:

    PCT Procedures and Passage into the European Phase by Peter Watchorn & Andrea Veronese
    Printed and distributed by Kastner AG
    Website: www.pct-compass.com
    ISBN-10 3-937082-56-5
    ISBN-13 978-3-937082-56-1

  12. Given that it is an open book exam I took a Dilbert book into the 6 hour opposition paper. Half way through I put my paper to one side, had a nice lunch and read Dilbert for 10 mins as a bit of a break. Passed them all first time...

    P.S. Nurofen is also strongly recommended if you are not used to writing for such a long period of time...

  13. Can we assume then, Gobhicks, that you would pass, say, D(I) without taking anything into the exam and by "just knowing your stuff"?

  14. Couple of points (from 1st time passer 2006):

    a) Ignore Gobhicks the EQE has changed a lot since '93. Many say it is now harder(?!) - it's certainly true that the older members of the profession seem to treat the EQE with distain in comparison to the CIPA exams. I'm pretty sure you couldn't now pass D1 without at least one well thumbed book or set of notes.

    b) I (like Mark above) recommend duplex printing the guidelines, PCT applicants guide, EPO caselaw etc (download the latest copies first) - I could fit all in one folder.

    c) Don't be afraid to take more sources than you think you need - I left most books on the floor/in my roller case and just the key ones (annotated and tabbed Vissser + own set of notes + folder with reduced guidelines etc) on the desk. I never used a couple of the books but if there'd been a tricky question in D1 I had the option of using spare time at the end (I had plenty in all but paper C - and I'm normally slow) to trawl through other books looking for the answer.

  15. I found Hoekstra much easier to navigate than Visser under exam conditions.

  16. Happily, the answer to Hobgicks's question is "I don't care"!

    My comment was intended to be tongue in cheek, and I know the exams have changed a bit since my day, but I still can't imagine wheeling all that stuff into an exam room...

  17. Gobhicks - a cynic would suggest that in 1993 there was very much less law to know. For instance, there were about a dozen published G decisions at the time of the 1993 exams and about 17 since then.

    For what it is worth, I passed first time in 2007. Visser was my primary reference, supplemented with copies of all important decisions in the last 3 years (i.e. the stuff they are likely to ask questions about). I think I hardly referred to anything else.

    Also useful: a list of member states of EPC, PCT, Paris, WTO and joining dates, and now also a list of London agreement states and their required translation languages.

  18. Passed in 2002, second attempt.
    Hoekstra book (tabbed and very well thumbed-through + Guidelines + Case Law + National Law (as far as I remember). Also:

    Several blue biros (just one may not get you through the C-Paper, never mind the whole three-day ordeal...and you don't want to run out of ink midway through a paper). Highlighter(s). Scissors and glue (very useful during the A- and B-papers at least). A pre-printed novelty matrix for the C-Paper. Food and drink for that one too (as someone has suggested, anti-inflammatories for your writing wrist may also be a good idea).

    For the last day, I also brought a bottle of bubbly with me. Feels nice after the whole effort, and you'll make lots of friends among future EPAs...

    Finally, I wouldn't want to sound negative, but if you're only wondering now what you bring to this year's exams, well...I must wonder how you've been preparing wo far...

  19. I passed first time last year and would recommend taking one tabbed up source book that you know like the back of your hand - I used Visser as he already has comments which are useful. Find the one that works for you whether that be Hoekstra or even starting from scratch and annotating your own EPC. I worked through the Delta patents questions and annotated Visser further with references to Guidelines and case law, etc. Take in the Guidelines and case law books, national law books and ancillary regs.

    I also recommend preparing crib sheets, for example for Paper C - skeleton outlines and arguments which you can copy pre-prepared text from and build on. It gives you a place to start if you're easily panicked and work from throughout.

    As others have mentioned, rulers, tabbed up folders with dividers for holding documents together and organised, pens, pencils, highlighters, coloured bulldog clips etc.

    Passport and something to drink/eat as well. Jacket in case it's cold - seriously!

    There's no harm bringing a full suitcase of books if it makes you happy/calms your nerves, just realise that you only have a limited amount of time in which to look things up: better to know where things are through preparation beforehand! Goodluck!

  20. The Queen Mary EQE course provided a set of "recommended" texts the year I was on it (2006). Anybody that was on it this year might be able to post it??

    From memory, I remember using the Guidelines alot but I think my first source was Visser (with tabs and cross-references previously put in at every opportunity).

    I also remember finding an answer for a D1 question in the Ancillary Regulations that I brought with me (printed double sided and four pages to a page - your eyes get sore if you have to look at that size of text too long but its useful for just looking up something quickly).

    Gobhicks - thats a pretty arrogant attitude considering you are hardly up to speed with EQE exams. You may not care but everybody else is trying to help candidates - if you've not got something interesting to say, don't post.

  21. Thankfully I passed C and D first time in 2006.

    Comments on some of the other tips:
    - if you bring pre-prepared materials (matrixes, stickers, lists of abbreviations etc) and hand them in, they will not be marked. Your answer has to be handwritten, optionally including pieces cut from the exam paper.

    - Don't bring your own calendars. I know the official ones are not so great, but they do not always match the ones printed in the OJ EPO. If you need it to answer something, they will be provided. The advantage is that if the official calendars have a mistake (holidays have been forgotten a couple of times)you will not be penalized in your answer.

    Some of my personal tips:

    - Get a knife and cut Visser into two along the spine. That way you can have the rules and articles open next to each other.

    - Use trips to the toilet to reflect on what you just read, or if you have no idea what to do next.

    - For C, you may work in English, but need to read 1 document in French. You get the patent in all 3 languages, so before reading the French document, read the patent claims in French so you know which words (features)to look for.

    - At least have the items and books indicated in the Instructions to Candidates (http://www.european-patent-office.org/epo/pubs/oj008/12_08/supplement_eqe_regulation.pdf)

    Because your answers are copied:
    - black pen (dark blue seems to copy okay)
    - yellow highlighting pen
    (I used different colours - red, blue, green - to highlight different types of information in the paper. However if you cut pieces out and stick them in your answer, they can copy quite dark. Luckily, in may case, the text could still be read after copying.

    For the copy/paste:
    - scissors
    - glue roller (but it has to be quiet)

    The versions valid as at 31 December 2008:
    - Examination Guidelines
    - The arrangements for deposit accounts
    - OJ 2007 Special Edition No 3 (EPC2000 update to the Ancillary Regulations)
    - List of states party to the various treaties (published in March/April each year in OJEPO)
    - National law relating to the EPC
    - Applicants Guide Part 2 - Euro-PCT
    - London Agreement, including status of ratification
    - PCT Applicants Guide: International and national introduction

  22. Another tip for the opposition paper is as follows. I prepared, essentially, a novely/IS matrix of the claim features against the disclosures in the given prior art documents. I then completed the matrix, leaving the foreign language document to last. That way, when translating the foreign document, you have some idea what piece of the jigsaw you are looking for. Clearly, all papers are different, etc, and this is no guarentee for success, but when I sat the paper in 2005 it worked like a dream: the missing feature was in the second last line of the document.

  23. A comment not so much relating to 'what to bring' but more of a 'what to do' - if you will be staying in a hotel for the EQE's, book a room early. The closest hotels fill up fast and there's nothing quite like starting off your exams with an easy walk to the hall rather than an 'am I going to be late' panic commute!

  24. I would recommand to take "A guide to EPC2000" with you since it has combined various useful text into a single book: EPC (Rules next to Articles), Author's comment to each article, London Agreement, EPC contracting states list, G decisions and a nice index.

  25. The one crucial thing that helped me pass D1 the first time around was to set a timer for each question, to calculate 4 minutes per grade point and stop when the time for that question was up. This prevented me from spending thinking time on questions I couldn't immediately answer and/or planning the exam as a whole. In the end, I had about 20 min left to correct / complete my work, which felt like ages.

    In particular, I used a divers watch (the type of watch with an adjustable ring around the dial, e.g. from Swatch watches), and I'd reset the ring to indicate my starting time for each question. It only takes about 10 seconds per question to set, and you know immediately at a single glance the time still available for each question.

    I tried a stopwatch before, but the running digits for 1/10 and 1/100 second stressed me out, and a mechanical stopwatch made too much noise.

  26. Hi,
    I am probably taking the EQE in 2014 (Ages away!), but I got myself a copy of Visser (18th ed) updated till 15.11.2010.

    I love reading it and annotating it.

    Do you think I would have to get a new one in 2013?

    Seems a waste to tab and annotate my current version (cutting up the edges takes time!) if I'm just going to be using a brand new book for the exams.

    Advice please!! Thanks!


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