New EQE - Proposal and consultation

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A proposal for the new EQE is now available and an open consultation will be launched to enable all interested parties to give their feedback on it. As a first step, the concept of the new EQE is presented.

The consultation will be launched in the second half of May and will remain open until 15 July 2022. To be able to access the model papers, please register via the link under "Model papers" below. Feedback will be collected by means of a questionnaire. The answers to the questionnaire will be evaluated by the EPO-epi working group.

The European qualifying framework proposed for the next generation of patent attorneys is a competences-based system that builds on the existing EQE to bring it closer to today's profession, adjust it to the digital environment, refine the approach to evaluation and ensure the highest quality standards.

The proposed scheme is a joint EPO-epi endeavour that can now be enhanced via the consultation. While open to everyone, the consultation mostly targets the profession, training centres and other interested parties. The model examination papers and the overall concept draw on 40 years of experience with the current EQE, the work of EPO and epi professionals, the feedback received from training institutions and numerous discussions with a range of stakeholders over the past 18 months.

The new qualifying system builds on a competences-based analysis of the existing EQE. A modular evaluation scheme of cumulative knowledge and increasing complexity assesses whether candidates have the specific and transversal competences, and the different kinds of underlying knowledge, expected of attorneys. The outcome consists of six modules that gradually progress from acquiring legal and procedural knowledge towards its practical application.

Becoming a European patent attorney under the new scheme will require candidates to take exams amounting to 20 hours over a minimum period of three years. The new format is adapted to allow for evaluation in the digital environment. It includes parts to be autoscored and shortens time spent on the computer. In parallel, the scope of the situations assessed has been broadened to ensure preparation for all steps along the patent grant procedure.

The learning journey takes candidates from remembering and understanding the fundamental provisions of patent law to performing typical actions such as analysing claims and drafting patent applications. They then continue to acquire the more in-depth knowledge required to take decisions at specific points of the patent procedure and design patenting strategies. The journey is organised into semestral examinations, although this timetabling is optional for the main papers: candidates can either follow the sequential approach or decide to take all main exams together at the end.

The first foundation module assesses the entry level of legal knowledge needed to operate in the European patent system. The second foundation module requires candidates to implement the knowledge gained in claims analysis and applied procedural patent law. Once candidates have completed the foundation modules, they can go on to take the main modules.

The first main module focuses on assessing information and client instructions, and tests whether candidates understand the invention, the instructions received and communications from examiners and others. The second main module puts candidates’ drafting skills to the test: they must prove their expertise in drafting and amending claims, replying to Office actions and drafting notices of opposition and other documents. In the third module candidates must reason, argue and manage advanced procedural aspects of patent law, assessing various options at a given point in the procedure in order to offer advice. Finally, in the fourth module, candidates must prove that they have the skills to handle relations with the client and the competences to provide advice and build on previously acquired knowledge in the areas of information, drafting and patent prosecution.

The consultation on the future European qualifying examination (EQE) will aim at gathering feedback on the proposed format for the EQE. The material provided for the consultation will include, in addition to the concept paper, details of the proposed modules, the list of competences tested, a set of model examination papers for these modules and a questionnaire. The model papers, produced by a joint EPO-epi team, will give an idea of how the future EQE might look. Please actively contribute once the model papers and questionnaire are available.

Depending on the outcome of the consultation, a fully-fledged reform of the Regulation on the European qualifying examination (REE) and its implementing provisions (IPREE) will follow. The EQE 2023 will be conducted under the current regulations.

This section provides details of the concept behind the proposal and the tested competences, as well as a description of the modules.

Model papers (modules) have been prepared to show how the new system might look. To enable you to experience the full range of digital possibilities available, we strongly recommend registering via the link below to get access to the online examination platform (Wiseflow). When registering, please indicate a valid email address that will not change for the next few months. Please register even if you already have a Wiseflow account.

For all those who have registered by 19 May 2022, user accounts will be created in the week starting on 23 May 2022. It is expected that the model papers will also be made available in the course of this week. For those who register after 19 May 2022, user accounts will be created on a weekly basis.

You will receive an automated email from Wiseflow with an activation link. 

The model papers will also be made available here as a simple PDF.

Your feedback is important and will help to pave the way for an adjusted design of the EQE.

The questionnaire will be opened once the period for registering on the online platform has closed and the model papers are available.

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