Wednesday whimsies 1

A chance to meet up.  This blogger will be at The Old Nick, Holborn, this coming Tuesday afternoon, between 5.00 pm and 6.30 pm, where he will be having a pleasant chat with fellow Kat Darren and any other friends who wish to join us to discuss intellectual property law and practice, the IP blogosphere and any other matters of mutual interest. If you'd like to pop in, say "hello" and join us, please feel welcome to do so. No need to RSVP ...

PuM. This Kat warmly welcomes, a newborn IP weblog wholly devoted to pharmaceutical trade marks. This new-comer is fruit of the mind of Katfriend David Slopek, who will review European and German case-law concerning Class 5 marks on a regular basis along with fellow pharma TMs enthusiasts Jan Peter Heidenreich, Margret Knitter and Ralf Möller. In this first phase of its existence, PuM is in German only, but English case summaries are promised for the future. The work of David's team will also lead to the PuM - Das Pharmamarken magazin paper-based magazine, published annually and brimming with additional content (thanks, Alberto, for providing this item).

Never mind the Ballon d'Or, which has all-too-infrequently been won by British footballers, when it comes to passing patent exams the Brits take some beating.  A fairly upbeat, not to say triumphalist, press release from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) was issued on Monday with the headline "UK Patent Attorneys top the European qualification league table".  According to the text,
Affirmative action? CIPA
boasts a women-only logo
"The high quality of patent attorneys in the United Kingdom was demonstrated again by the latest results of the European Qualifying Examination (EQE). The EQE tests ability and knowledge to represent clients in European Patent Office (EPO) proceedings and enables successful candidates to bear the title of European Patent Attorney. The exam is described by the EPO as “one of the most demanding professional examinations”.  
The results of the 2014 exam show that 43% of the 153 British candidates passed. This rate was only surpassed by Ireland, whose two candidates both passed. The next most successful countries were France (34%), Belgium (32%), Austria (28%) and Germany (25%).  ...
The British patent attorney: top
dog, because so well trained ...
Trainee Patent Attorney Parminder Lally, who is Honorary Secretary of the CIPA Informals Committee for students, said: “UK candidates excel at the EQEs because of the support available to them to prepare for the examinations. Each year, the Informals’ Committee run an EQE lecture series and tutorial system for UK trainees to supplement their in-house training – the support CIPA members provide to trainees clearly pays off.  Another reason UK candidates do so well is because of our own rigorous national patent examinations. Many students believe the UK drafting and amendment exams are of a much higher standard than the EQE papers, and that preparing for the UK exams improves their training in general. This can be seen in the 2014 EQE results which show, for example, that 75% of UK candidates passed the EQE drafting paper, compared to 52% of German candidates.” 
The message that training and adherence to rigorous examination at national level is one that should not be missed.  The IPKat and Merpel have both written to the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to demand that CIPA be given absolute control of next year's British entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest, in which the British record since this weblog's foundation in 2003 has been dreadful (coming last three times in the past 12 years).  

Some patent attorneys are more EQE than others ... On the subject of exams and with the next European Qualifying Examination (EQE) approaching, Katfriend Brian Cronin (Patskills) asks the IPKat to remind readers who might be taking that examination there is no point in cramming, doing more and more past papers and trying to learn the Case Law or the Guidelines:
"The more you cram during the last few weeks the more likely it is that you will freak out during the exam, a victim of overload. It’s important to realise that cramming is wholly counter-productive to your preparations for qualification as a European Patent Attorney. Instead, take it easy during the last few weeks before the exam, review what you have done and consolidate your previous work". 
Easier said than done? Maybe, but there's a series of YouTube tutorials, “Approaching the EQE”, which Brian describes as "some excellent revision materials you can use as the EQE approaches".  You can find them here. The first four, already published, are (i) 1st Approach Serving the Client, (ii) 2nd Approach Working Method, (iii) 3rd Approach Legal Thinking, (iv) 4th Approach Presenting Arguments. Two more will be out soon: (v) 5th Approach Substantive Law and (vi) 6th Approach Time Management The first four are already published and the last two will be published soon. I hope candidates enjoy these tutorials and wish them a relaxed time before the EQE.

Filament Fred.  Following yesterday's Katpost, "Lions, unicorns and the prospect of a licence" (here), one of our readers reminded this Kat of an intellectual property created by the UK Intellectual Property Office and which, it seems, remains on the register until 5 November 2018: Filament Fred.  This horrendous character, portrayed as registered on the right and as used as a cartoon character on the left, graced the cover of the UKIPO's Annual Report for 2007 and was promoted as being a means of giving the office a more user-friendly (if inhuman) face. This Kat wonders whether Filament Fred was ever used in the course of trade as a trade mark for any of the goods or services for which the UKIPO registered it: paper weights, toys, games and playthings, jigsaw puzzles, data processing and public relations services.

Yea, Verrilli ...
Oracle v Google: US Supreme Court asks the Obama administration for its input. Oracle v Google (Case No. 14-410) is one of the most important copyright cases currently pending before the US courts (see a previous post here). At present, the US Supreme Court is considering whether the case merits its further review, and has now invited the Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, to "file a brief in the case expressing the view of the United States" (see here for an explanation of the Solicitor General's role).  This litigation has generated significant interest from the industry, with amici curiae filed both in support of Oracle and Google (see the list here). Watch this space! (Thanks, Tom, for providing this item).
Wednesday whimsies 1 Wednesday whimsies 1 Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. About taking it easy before the EQEs: Nonsense.

    The exams, especially C and D, are mentally and physically demanding, especially for those used to dictating/typing and the varied caseload and flexible working practices of a typical patent attorney's office.

    Succeeding at the EQE not only requires deep knowledge and understanding of the law, which of course cannot be achieved solely by cramming, but also requires an efficient and effective exam technique intuitively followed, a deep familiarity with the chosen texts and reference materials, and an ability to create and hold mental focus over a long period, not to say to write longhand prose legibly and coherently.

    A good proportion of the EQE preparation procedure is about developing these skills, and especially an approach to each paper which suits the candidate well, and then practicing it so that it becomes intuitive and effortless. All this can be undone by a failure to keep the discipline and mental and physical conditioning going in the weeks and days up to the exam.

    Musicians do not take weeks off practising before a recital, runners do not take weeks off training before a marathon, and EQE candidates would be poorly served by failing to follow their example. The ideal training situation is that the EQE, on the day, becomes "just another past paper" in a series of clearly pass-worthy practice sessions.

    By all means stay balanced in the run up to the EQE, and do not overtrain. But don't let the momentum fade; it is that momentum, keeping the relvant skills which have been already mastered in peak condition, which can make the difference between success and failure.

  2. Re: Old Nick invitation. When Fatboy Slim did something similar 250,000 people turned up unexpectedly causing chaos to Brighton.

  3. Funk soul Merpel?

    Or is that not cool for Kats?

  4. Yeah Parminder, big up CIPA as to why the UK are the best at EQEs.

    I put my success down to good old fashioned hard work and the benefit of the CEIPI tutorials run by the amazing Simon Roberts and Dave Musker.

  5. Filament Fred was not just on the cover of the UKIPO's 2007 Annual Report, it was also all over the inside and very disturbing too. I can't imagine how anyone could think this creepy creature would show IP in a good light. It was even worse than the London Olympics/Paralympics mascots.

  6. Actually, marathon runners taper their last few weeks of training to avoid injury.

    I advise a similar strategy for any examination, though in the end everyone has to find their own way to approach things.

  7. Anonymous No. 1 - it is common for runners to 'taper' in the week or 2 before a marathon, running shorter distances so as to not be over-tired or over-trained before the event, which is what matters.

    I would second the tributes paid to Messrs Musker & Roberts and the wisdom of a 2 year preparation course which allows the more obscure aspects of the EPC & PCT to percolate into the little grey cells.

  8. Possibly worth noting that British EQE candidates have an advantage over candidates who speak neither English, French or German as a first language.

  9. The EQE results speak for themselves.

    Sadly, Lally's press release has a bit of a vulgarly triumphalist undertone. Whatever happened to "in Victory, Magnanimity?"

    Most entrants to the DE profession will have Phds, and in Germany that means you are over 30, and by the time of sitting the EQE, you might be 35. The German profession also has a large proportion of mid-career entrants, people who spent 15 years as an Engineer and who want a change.

    In such a position, you probably already have family obligations. Blocking out months of evenings and weekends for preparation before the EQE might not be an option, for most of those people. Compare and contrast with the 24/25 yr olds in the UK, for whom such a demanding schedule is an option. If a candidate's preparation time is curtailed by family commitments, that is going to affect the final mark.

    Before sitting the EQE, the German candidates might well not have done a drafting or amendment exam in the heat of the moment, whereas in general the UK candidates will have had the "dry run" of the UK finals. It isn't surprising that the pass rate for a drafting exam on the first try will be better, in those circumstances. But what does that actually tell us? That extensive preparation for an exam will make passing it easier. Does the mere fact of having to retake an exam a few times imply some sort of value judgement on those who eventually pass? Hope not.

    It stands to reason that most German candidates eventually pass paper A, on the first or second repeat, and then they are at the required standard. There is no question of a DE candidate becoming an EPA without paper A, so all Parminder's comparison tells us is that there are more retakes in DE. Lots of UK candidates have to repeat EQE drafting papers, as well. Provided the candidates are of the required standard when they go on the register of representatives, what is the problem?

    There is also the financial aspect. In the UK, financial progression is generally based on the number of exam passes. In DE, financial progression is less focussed on exam passes. Perhaps, for that reason, there is also less of a "pull" factor in needing to get qualified at the first sitting.

    Finally, DE candidates get an "office year", in which they get experience of drafting court decisions, working with Judges, and assisting examiners. The usefulness of the office year is open to discussion, but in any case it will give an insight into the job that the UK attorneys will never have.

    So, there those are a few subtleties (there are others) that Parminder might have taken into account, before publishing that press release.

  10. Please tell me, if there is an EPC Member State on the European mainland, in which the national patent attorney examiners are harder to satisfy than those marking the EQE.

    In other words, what mainland EPC country regards the EQE as "easier" than its own national examination? The Netherlands perhaps?

    I think that might explain the good UK performance at the EQE. Frankly, I'm not sure whether native English speaking is much of an advantage. Depends who the EQE Examiners are, I would suggest.

  11. In response to anon 14:30, it is also the case that a lot of German candidates have a bad timing clash between a series national exams at the end of January, and the EQE at the end of February, dependent on when they elect to sit those national exams. The DPMA, rather than the DE profession, fixes the timing of such exams - it would be interesting to see what would happen to DE EQE pass rates if the January exam dates got rescheduled.

    The black-letter law aspect of the German exams is also far more onerous than what is expected of UK patent attorneys. I believe that the commercial law modules that German candidates must complete are the same as those that real German commercial solicitors would be expected to do. Compare that with the UK foundation exam "basic English law", which is good preparation for a pub quiz, but not a basis for commercial advice.

  12. If my sums are correct the Czech Republic had a pass rate of 50% (one of their two candidates passed).

    Also interesting to note that the US was two for two.

    But the most interesting statistic has to be the total number of German candidates: 700. No one else comes close.

  13. Well said, that anon at 14:30 today.

    The German Amtsjahr is an interesting issue. Do German private practice firms leave it to the Amt (the German Patent Office and Courts) to train their technical assistants how to be good patent attorneys? Is that why there are fewer tutorials in Germany?

    Does the Amt train candidates in claim drafting? Might an attorney who is serving real international clients have a different outlook on what constitutes competent claim drafting?

    As so few German candidates fail the domestic qualification exams I wonder if there is amongst them a misplaced sense of entitlement to the EPO qualification which, in turn, explains the lower pass rate?

    Thoughts anybody?

  14. I imagine the CIPA press release is to be seen in the light of the IPREG proposals to change the UK exam system and opposition to those proposals. It comes across as "bigging up" UK candidates (the "vulgarly triumphalist undertone") and their preparation at the expense of others but that is unavoidable if that were indeed the goal.

  15. Re CIPA and vulgar triumphalism, it's not often that one can say that the tone of a blogpost is more self-deprecatory than the tone of a press release from a professional body.

  16. As in particular, UK nationals come from a culture where they are used to a system of filtering and pre-selection (school, university), therefore, there is a tendency not to enter for exams that one is unlikely to pass and to do one's best to pass once entered. Hence, those persons that sit exams of this nature are not only fewer than applicants from other nationalities with similar sized populations, they are also more likely to pass. The same trend in success rates can be seen with similar tests for e.g. posts in international organisations. They are undoubtedly the fewest in number in terms of applicants when compared to countries with a similar demographic or as in the present case, interest in the area.


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