EQE - European qualifying examination


The European qualifying examination (EQE) tests candidates' knowledge and aptitude to represent applicants in EPO proceedings. Established in 1979, it is widely regarded as one of the most demanding professional examinations. It has been passed by more than 10 000 candidates already.

About EQE

The EQE is designed to establish whether the candidate has the requisite aptitude and knowledge to represent applicants before the EPO. 

The examination is organised and conducted by a Supervisory Board, an Examination Board, Examination Committees and an Examination Secretariat.

The current Regulation on the European qualifying examination (REE) and its Implementing provisions (IPREE) can be found here 

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 October 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, usually held once a year, comprises five papers:
- Pre-examination - assesses candidates' ability to answer legal questions and questions relating to the drafting of claims.
- Paper A - tests the candidate's ability to draft claims and the introductory part of a European patent application.
- Paper B - requires candidates to prepare a reply to an official letter in which prior art has been cited.
- Paper C - involves drafting a notice of opposition to a European patent.
- Paper D - assesses candidates' ability to answer legal questions and to draft legal assessments.

Candidates may use any books and documents they consider useful for answering the examination 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.
New EQE
On 13 and 14 December  2023 the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation officially embraced the new Regulation on the European Qualifying Examination (REE), taking effect on 1 January 2025. This pivotal development is the culmination of an extensive reform process spearheaded by a collaborative effort from the EPO and the European Patent Institute (epi) working group.

The reform is based on the principles of progressiveness, modularity and sustainability and follows a competence-based approach, setting the foundations for a complete redesign of the examination. The new modules draw on the framework for existing papers with a view to preserving excellence whilst fostering modernisation.

The new EQE ensures quality and maintains its reputation as a robust assessment of the already high standard of “fit for practice”. The noteworthy amendments primarily revolve around the restructuring and content enhancements of the examination papers. Whilst the duration of the exam remains the same as today’s EQE (about 20h in total), the five new modules align more closely with the practical demands placed on European patent attorneys, strategically assessing their core competencies.

  • Module F tests declarative knowledge in procedural patent law and claim analysis.
  • Module 1 assesses whether candidates can carry out tasks relating to the analysis and assessment of information and evaluate and act on instructions from a client.
  • Module 2 examines whether candidates are capable of applying procedural and substantive patent law of the EPC and the PCT. It assesses whether candidates are familiar with all procedures established by the EPC and the PCT and with the procedural law.
  • Module 3 establishes whether candidates possess the required skills to analyse, execute and create patent documentation and submissions. It consists of three parts, addressing the drafting of claims, the response to Office actions and opposition.
  • Module 4 assesses candidates’ competence to advise the client and provide an answer in the form of a legal opinion responding to an enquiry.

To take the five modules, candidates are required to have performed the professional activities for one year in the case of Module F, for two years in the cases of Module 1 and 2, and for three years in the cases of Modules 3 and 4.

To facilitate a seamless conversion for current candidates, transitional measures have been implemented as well as a roll-out date of application:

  • In 2025, the new Module F will be launched, and no pre-examination will be held.
  • In 2026 the present main exam papers (A, B, C and D) will be held for the last time, alongside new modules M1 and M2.
  • In 2027 the fully-fledged new EQE modules will be in place.

Furthermore, a detailed system of equivalence between the present papers and future modules and the corresponding results is established.

The implementing provision of the REE will be decided by the Supervisory Board in Q1 2024 and will be communicated to candidates afterwards.

Conditions for registration and enrolment

Only registered candidates can enrol. More information can be found in the section below under "registration as candidate".

Candidates must meet the following requirements:

Candidates must possess a scientific or technical qualification - for example, in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, electronics, pharmacology or physics.

Decisions on qualifications are based on Article 11(1)(a) of the Regulation on the European qualifying examination (REE) and Rules 11 to 14 of the Implementing provisions to the REE (IPREE).
At the date of the examination, candidates must have trained for three years (two years for the pre-examination) under the supervision of a professional representative or as an employee dealing with patent matters in an industrial company established in one of the contracting states.

The mandatory practical training is very important, since a great deal of the knowledge required by a European patent attorney is gained during this period. During this period the candidates must take part in a wide range of activities pertaining to patent applications or patents.

Only periods of professional activity completed after the required qualifications were obtained are taken into account. The training period must be completed at the date of the examination.

EPO examiners may enrol for the EQE if they have performed the duties of examiner for at least four years (three for the pre-examination).
The fee payable depends on the number of papers for which the candidate enrols. The basic fee is currently 200 EUR.
The EQE is usually held once a year. A notice indicating the examination dates and the closing dates for enrolment is published on this website and in the Official Journal.
Registration as candidate
Registration (Rule 28 IPREE)

It is compulsory for EQE candidates to register at the beginning of their professional activities and training. Candidates who have not registered in time, cannot enrol to the EQE.

Read Rule 28 IPREE

Notice from the Examination Secretariat - Registration pursuant to Rule 28 IPREE
 

All candidates who, according to Article 11(2) REE have started

- training under the supervision of a professional representative, or

- to represent their employer before the EPO, or

- to perform duties of an examiner at the EPO,

and who

- intend to enrol to the EQE for the first time or

- have requested enrolment to the EQE in the past and were not admitted,

must register.

Candidates are expected to register shortly after starting their professional training.

Deadline for compulsory registration prior to enrolment for the pre-examination 2024 is 15 January 2023. See OJ EPO 2018, A99

Candidates who have already been admitted to the EQE (pre- or main examination) are registered and therefore do not need to register again.

This includes candidates who have already been admitted to the EQE but have not yet sat an examination paper.

Candidates are requested to register at the start of their training or employment activities.

It will however also be possible to register periods of professional activity completed in the past.

The registration must be done via myEQE.

Candidates should have the following documents ready at hand:

- certified copy of valid ID or passport;
- certified copy of academic qualifications (ie diploma certificate and transcript of records);

certificate of training or employment signed by the trainer and candidate.

Please refer to the FAQs for further details on certification of documents. Once the process has been completed, candidates will receive an overview of the online registration as well as a link to upload all supporting documents and the signed overview.

 

Enrolment

The dates of each examination paper can be found under "EQE notices".  

Compulsory registration

Enrolment to the pre-examination will only be open for candidates who have registered at the latest by 15 January of the year in which they intend to enrol for the pre-examination. See OJ EPO 2018, A99.

All information can be found under "Registration as candidate".
 

Enrolment periods

1. Pre-examination 2024

Candidates may enrol as from 1 February 2023. Applications must be submitted no later than 30 June 2023 via myEQE. For a first time enrolment to the pre-examination candidates must have registered at the latest by 15 January 2023. Candidates who have previously been admitted to the pre-examination are already registered.
 

2. Main examination 2024 (Papers A, B, C and D)

Candidates may enrol as from 3 April 2023. Applications must be submitted no later than 4 September 2023 via myEQE.
 

Enrolment process and fees

Candidates must observe the enrolment procedure and pay the respective fees as laid down in the following document:

Enrolment process and fees for the EQE 2024

Certain candidates can request a fee subsidy (eligibility criteria apply).

EQE online

The EQE is held online and can be taken at any suitable location chosen by the candidate. The examination system Wiseflow is used (https://europe.wiseflow.net/). Proctoring is based on image and audio recording, monitoring candidates using artificial intelligence, complemented by human invigilation.

Instructions to candidates concerning the conduct of the European qualifying examination
Code of conduct for the EQE
FAQs

Complaint concerning the conduct of the examination

Candidates wishing to lodge a complaint pursuant to point I.8. of the Instructions to candidates concerning the conduct of the examination must do so at the latest by the end of the day on which the paper concerned takes place, by filling in the dedicated form:
Form for the pre-examination (available on 17.03.2023, 16:10 - 23:59, CET)
Form for paper A (available on 09.03.2023, 13:30 - 23:59, CET)
Form for paper B (available on 14.03.2023, 13:00 - 23:59, CET)
Form for paper C (available on 16.03.2023, 16:15 - 23:59, CET)
Form for paper D (available on 07.03.2023, 16:45 - 23:59, CET)
Surveys

Results of the survey concerning the European qualifying examination 2023

Results of the survey concerning the European qualifying examination 2022

Results of the survey concerning the European qualifying examination 2021

Results and statistics
Year Examination type Size Download
2023 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 852 KB Download
2022 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 192 KB Download
2021 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 835 KB Download
2019 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 678 KB Download
2018 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 154 KB Download
2017 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 609 KB Download
2016 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 177 KB Download
2015 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 70.9 KB Download
2014 EQE, pre-examination and main examination 59 KB Download
2013 EQE 38.4 KB Download
2012 EQE 108 KB Download
2011 EQE 65.6 KB Download
2010 EQE 41.6 KB Download
2009 EQE 166 KB Download
2008 EQE 34 KB Download
2007 EQE 33KB Download
2006 EQE 44 KB Download
2005 EQE 26 KB Download
2004 EQE 26 KB Download
2003 EQE 89 KB Download
2002 EQE 87 KB Download

Contact

European qualifying examination - Examination Secretariat Telephone enquiries +49 (0)89 2399 5155
e-mail: helpdesk@eqe.org
Fax +49 (0)89 2399 5140
 
Opening times:
Mon, Wed-Fri 09.00-11.00 hrs
Tue 14.00-15:30 hrs
 
Postal address:
European Patent Office
European Qualifiying Examination
Examination Secretariat
80298 Munich
Germany

myEQE

Via myEQE registered candidates have access to their EQE-related documents.

MyEQE will be replaced in the course of February 2024. Further information on the new portal will be made available in due course.

 

Go to myEQE