The examination is organised and conducted by a Supervisory Board, an Examination Board, Examination Committees and an Examination Secretariat.
The EQE is designed to establish whether the candidate has the requisite aptitude and knowledge to represent applicants before the EPO.
Candidates need to be particularly conversant with European patent law, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Paris Convention, EPO board of appeal case law and certain national laws in so far as they apply to European patent applications and European patents. The content of the examination only relates to legal texts which were in force on 31 December of the year preceding the examination.
The examination papers are drawn up in the three official languages of the EPO (English, French and German). Candidates may be permitted to submit their answers in another official language of a contracting state.
The EQE, held once a year, comprises five papers:
To pass the EQE, it is obligatory to pass all examination papers. Candidates may not enrol for the main examination (papers A, B, C and D) until they have passed the pre-examination. There is a compensatory system in the main examination whereby under certain circumstances, low marks can be offset by good marks in other papers.