IP blogging: a couple of ethical issues

Information received from anonymous sources
The IPKat regularly receives correspondence from impeccable sources who wish to disseminate information without having their identity revealed. The IPKat is willing to respects such requests if he judges the information to be reliable and of interest to readers, and he is scrupulous to a fault in maintaining the confidentiality requested. Even Merpel, who is rarely discreet or sensitive, can be relied on to keep a secret when asked to do so.
Recently, a member of the blogging team received an anonymous communication suggesting that sweeping changes are being considered in relation to the organisation and marking of the EQE (that's the European Qualifying Examination taken by aspiring patent attorneys). Occasionally, information of this nature is received from anonymous correspondents, who hope that the IPKat will publish an unconfirmed and unverifiable story. If the IPKat does not know who the information has come from, no judgment can be made as to its authenticity.

If any readers are aware of specific plans to reorganise the EQE, or indeed of any other news that would be of interest to readers, but want to keep their identity concealed from the blog's readership, then please email the IPKat (theipkat@gmail.com), and simply let him know that you wish to remain anonymous. 

Communications from anonymous correspondents will not be published no matter how tempting and juicy they might appear to be, unless the information can be verified against an authenticated source.

Information of a personal nature

Occasionally the IPKat receives information from correspondents (often but by no means always anonymous) and which relates to the private lives of  public figures within the field of intellectual property. Whether such information is true or not, and whether it can be verified or not, such information lies within the sphere of privacy and is not the sort of information which he or Merpel should ever wish to post.  If however the information is verified, becomes a matter of public knowledge and affects the ability of the person concerned to perform his IP duties, the IPKat -- in common with other publications -- may feel obliged to comment on it.

IP blogging: a couple of ethical issues IP blogging: a couple of ethical issues Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, February 17, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. It is well known that the first pre-exam was a catastrophe. It was supposed to sort out the (wo)men from the girls/boys (former EQE examiners have told me that there are some candidates who are clearly in the wrong profession and haven't realised this). However, the pass mark was somewhere in excess of 95%! As the well-known IP commentator, Lenin, famously said, "What is to be done?".

  2. Maybe it did what it was supposed to do: forced the newer trainees to study the basic law and grasp its application to simple, straightforward situations before jumping into the more complex analysis and detailed knowledge required for D.

  3. As a trainee preparing for this year's EQE pre-exam, I sincerely hope that the EQEs don't go a similar way. The EPO has offered an official online training course and accompanying materials for the pre-exam, which are distinctly variable in quality. With only one previous past paper to go on, this is hardly a satisfactory state of affairs.

    In particular, many of the practice questions are so badly worded or vague as to leave doubt regarding what they are actually asking. Indicating "true/false" against the multiple-choice answers offered would be all very well and good if it weren't for the fact that in nearly every case, the answer from any competent attorney given the available (incomplete) facts would be "it depends...".

    Deprived of the opportunity for candidates to make reasoned arguments, the cynic in me expects that the EPO is trying not to turn out good attorneys who analyse the situation properly (and serve their clients' best interests), but obedient sheep accustomed to seeing everything in a cookie-cutter fashion(and who will thus do what the EPO wants and make their life easier). But that would be far too cynical an interpretation, surely...

  4. Except you just have published the gossip!. And, all you have done is invite disgruntled trainees to whinge about the difficulty/vagueness of the exams. Once Anon Trainee at 14:04 has passed the exams they will be in a position to criticise them. Until then they must suffer in silence. Of course, once they have passed they shall care no longer, and may resort to writing unhelpful, sarcastic, comments on The IPKat's blog.

  5. Anonymous 14.04, your comments about doing what the EPO wants certainly used to apply to the amendment paper, although not to the others. In the one that was set for my first tutorial, I found good reasons for ar back in the 1990's I found good arguments for maintianing the claims as they stood, and my answer therefore included no amendments. While the tutor agreed with my argumentation, and conceded that the question paper did refer to "amendment if necessary", he pointed out that in reality, 50% of the marks were awarded for the amendment, and if I did not submit an amendment, I was cutting myself off from 50% of the marks. The object of the excercise was to prepare a response that would be allowed forthwith.

  6. It seems that Anonymous on
    Monday, 18 February 2013 17:40:00 GMT
    has an error in reasoning.

    Namely, somebody above said:
    "I sincerely hope that the EQEs don't go a similar way."
    The argument of the Anonymous is:
    "Once Anon Trainee at 14:04 has passed the exams they will be in a position to criticise them.
    Until then they must suffer in silence."

    It seems to be an "argumentum ad hominem".
    Namely, the Anonymous attacks a personality of a speaker instead of his claim.
    The fact that the speaker is a trainee does not pertain to the correctness of his claim/statement.
    It is like saying: "Parties which are not represented in the parliament must stay silent
    and cannot participate in any political discussions
    until they have been elected to the parliament"…

    P.S. Good luck to all at EQE2013!

  7. I agree with anonymous of Tuesday, 19 February 2013 02:20:00 GMT. We can be a bit horrible to our own trainees, but I don't think that can be extended to other people's trainees. In my last firm we found that the Human Rights Act always got in the way of providing training as we would really wanted to have provided it. Another unwanted piece of European legislation destroying great British traditions.

  8. Referring to what ron said, this sort of thing let to The Great Opposition Disaster of a few years back, when candidates who chose the "wrong" prior art got zero marks for it, no matter how well they argued. The Paper C Committee then hit the panic button and awarded everyone 10 extra marks (why 10? It is rumoured that a French candidate had scored 90% and they couldn't give him/her more than 100%). It ended up with the Committee getting its nether regions well and truly kicked by the Disciplinary BoA. Of course, if the Committee hadn't been so daft in the first place...

  9. The "Great Opposition Disaster" - thanks for the reminder. I still get a chuckle from remembering this gross incompetence - more from a point of view with regard to the laws of physics than the case law of the BoA, though.

  10. "In my last firm we found that the Human Rights Act always got in the way of providing training as we would really wanted to have provided it." Really? REALLY? I find this far fetched, and struggle to imagine what sort of training programme of a private firm would require a public body to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (which is what the HRA prevents). I cannot help but feel, sir, that you are having a giraffe...


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