A Curious Kat Speaks

The IPKat has commented twice recently (here and here) about the possible consequences of certain new regulations relating to the European Qualifying Examination, which are referred to here as the IPREE.  The IPKat has not, as yet, seen the fabled document in question and is getting a little puzzled as to why he keeps hearing second-hand accounts of what it allegedly contains, rather than seeing the document itself.  

The IPKat gathers, possibly incorrectly, that the IPREE have been already approved by the Administrative Council of the EPO.  And yet, the IPKat hears, the document itself still has the status of being 'confidential', so cannot be seen by the people to whom it will matter most. This is curious.

The IPKat would therefore very much like to know if such a document exists, and if it could be passed on to him so that he can communicate it to all who may be interested.

UPDATE: The IPKat's plea has been answered.  The document is not apparently the latest version, but is quite informative nonetheless.  Axel Horns has helpfully provided a summary on his own blog. 
A Curious Kat Speaks A Curious Kat Speaks Reviewed by David Pearce on Friday, February 20, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Pursuant to Article 3(7) of the new EQE regulations, the IPREE will be drawn up by the Supervisory Board, not the Administrative Council (AC). The AC has not approved the IPREE; it has only seen a draft IPREE when it adopted the new EQE regulations.

    I would guess that the Supervisory Board has simply not yet drawn up the new IPREE. So, nothing has been hidden; the decision has just not yet been taken by the Supervisory Board.

    As to languages, Article 12(1) of the new EQE regulations provides that "The examination papers shall be drawn up in the three official languages of the EPO and all candidates shall receive them in all three languages."
    In the draft presented to the AC this was explained as follows: "The separate language arrangement for Paper C has been dropped. Under the previous provisions the documents on the state of the art for Paper C were supplied in two of the official languages, which meant that candidates had to be able to understand at least two of those languages. The EPO and the Institute agree that there is no need to require candidates to know at least two of the official languages. All parts of the paper are therefore to be provided in all the EPO's official languages. The proposed new arrangement is expected to benefit candidates from states which do not have any of the EPO's official languages as their official languages."

    As to qualification, the draft IPREE provisions provide equality throughout Europe: everybody who has at least 4 years full-time university education, has to have at least 3 years of professional training, and everybody who has only 3 years of university education, has to have at least 4 years of professional training, so that everybody has to spent the same amount of 7 years calculated from the start of the university education. Where most candidates from the Continent have a Master's degree that takes at least 4 years from the start of the university education, it is only fair to require UK candidates to similarly have a Master's degree that takes at least 4 years from the start of the university education, and where UK candidates only have a Bachelor's degree that takes 3 years, to require them to have an additional year of professional training.

  2. The rules have not been agreed. What was agreed by the AC was the structure of a Supervisory Board, Examination Board, and Examination Committees. [CA/D26/08 http://www.epo.org/patents/law/legal-texts/decisions/archive/20081210.html].

    The IPREE have to be settled with consultation of the Examination Board, Examination Committees and Examination Secretariat (Rule 3(7)).

    No doubt such consultation is going on. No doubt it would be of wider interest. Tough ins't it.

  3. Just to clarify, for the sake of Tom: the above 3 comments were moderated simultaneously.

  4. Lack of transparency and consultation? Secrecy?

    IP practitioners should be shocked, shocked!

    After all, look at how open the ACTA process is ;-)

    Go get 'em, Tufty.

    Show no mercy...

  5. So Anonymous (1st posting above) seeks to justify the proposed 4/3 - 3/4 rule on the basis of equality throughout Europe. Utter tosh.

    The 4 year degrees rule is totally illogical and falls into the traditional European error of counting inputs rather than outputs. Someone who works hard to get a degree in 3 years is not automatically less deserving or able than someone who dosses for 7 years in getting a degree.

    UK degrees tend to be 3 year degrees and UK candidates have an exceedingly good pass rate at the EQE. Clearly the output of UK 3 year degrees is sufficient for entry into the EQE with the current 3 year service period.

    If a 3 year degree is acceptable today – why should it not be acceptable tomorrow?

    It baffles me how time in university can be thought to equate with professional experience. Patent attorneys are lawyers not scientists and there is little relationship between scientific background and professional skill.

    The EQE tests patent attorney skills - why should there be any difference in the time training in those skills dependent on the technical background of the candidate?

    So the proposal seeks to harmonise by hitting hardest British candidates who have about the best pass rates.

    The proposal is totally illogical and will lead to many appeals.

    There are issues of whether an arbitrary rule bearing no relationship to objective need is proportionate and in accord with general legal principles. If the proposed rule change goes ahead we can look forward to some interesting appeals.

  6. Frankly, and before getting into the comparative merits of English and Continental (and Scottish) higher education, I think that those who complain about the 3+4/4+3 rule are -well- a bunch of whiners. I sat the EQE as an EPO examiner, which means that, not only did I need four years' professional experience on top of my 6 years of higher education, but I still needed to leave the EPO and work for two years under the supervision of an EPA before being allowed to call myself one. I am quite certain that EPO examiners sitting the EQE have even better passing rates than English candidates, so excuse me if I hold my tears for you.

    I am more worried about that mysterious "pre-examination" appearing in the new IPREE. It's yet another obstacle for all candidates, and not a particularly well justified one.

  7. A dangerous post by the last anonymous. I have no doubt that the "EPO examiners sitting the EQE have better passing rates than English candidates" (although I have seen no proof of this). It raises the question as to why these "examiners" have so much free time to study the intracacies of the PCT system.

    If the same anonymous spent six years in higher education, four years at the EPO and a further two years in practice simply to be allowed to represent clients at the EPO, they would appear to have made some questionable career planning - why not go into training as a patent attorney trainee straight after Uni? Perhaps the generous salary at the EPO was more attractive?

    I agree that the 4/3; 3/4 rule is without any logic - it is simply a Euro fudge aimed at some altruistic "fairness" label. How does an extra year spent working as a trainee compensate for the "lack" of a fourth year at college? In my 15 years in the business, I think I can honestly say that the number of times that I have actually used some specific technical knowledge acquired in my university studies can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

    The EPO qualification is not the same as a patent attorney qualification - it is simply the right to be heard at the EPO. In the UK, the knowledge which is required to become a patent attorney far outstrips that required to pass the EPO "open-book" tests.

    My thoughts.

  8. Out of curiosity

    I'm from Ireland and did a 4 year degree - when I started my degree most people in my year were 17 / 18. I have vague memories of students who had done the A levels being a year older (18 / 19) than those who had sat the Irish leaving certificate.

    Therefore, I suspect that someone with an A level doing a U.K. style 3 year course will on average have spent the same amount of time in education as an someone who did the Leaving certificate and a 4 year Irish degree.

    Anyway I my view a degree is a level of understanding of a subject - a bit like a getting driving licence for your knowlege of how to drive. It's pushing it in the extreme to say one degree has a different worth than another purely based on the time it takes. If you did a three year degree, but drank so much that your had to repeat first year you've in the end have spent 4 years doing a degree!

  9. The pre-examination is probably not all that much to worry about. Looking at the regulations basically the proposal is to split up paper D into its constituent parts and require candidates to pass DI before sitting DII and the other exam papers. It will be possible to sit the pre-exam with one year less experience than that required to sit the other papers so provided a candidate passes first time they won’t be disadvantaged by the introduction of the new system.

    Of the changes proposed, the pre-exam and the relaxation of the language requirements on paper C are the only ones which might actually reduce the exam work load. Introducing a pre-exam would reduce the numbers of candidates repeatedly sitting and failing all papers. At least until the pre-exam was passed candidates could only sit and fail a single exam.

    Similarly, dropping the need for candidates to demonstrate skills in two EPO languages can only increase the pass rate for paper C.

    Nothing else will have any impact on candidate numbers. Since all EQE candidates have at least 3 years experience in patent prosecution it is highly unlikely that a small increase in fees is going to persuade someone to give up and try another profession, particularly given the potential economic benefits of being a qualified EPA.


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/p/want-to-complain.html

Powered by Blogger.