Monday, 24 February 2014

First impressions?

To all who sat the Pre-Exam today:

What are your first impressions? Any general or specific comments?
Were the topics well balanced?
Was the Pre-Exam more difficult than in 2012 and in 2013?
Were the Legal Questions difficult?
Were the Claims Analysis Questions difficult?
How many marks do you expect to have scored?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?

We look forward to your comments.
Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 24-02-2014 17:54"), whereas using your real name or a pseudonym is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation.
Please post your comments as to first and general impressions to the Pre-Exam as a whole, and to the two parts (Legal; Claims Analysis) to this blog.

Our (preliminary) answers are posted in two separate threads for the two parts:
Preliminary answers to the Legal Part of Pre-Exam 2014, and
Preliminary answers to the Claims Analysis Part of Pre-Exam 2014
Please post your comments as specific questions and statements to the respective blogs.

A copy of the Pre-Exam 2014 paper (nicely colored by one of our candidates) is available from our website: Pre-Exam 2014 - Exam Paper: enjoy!!!


  1. Legal part: Not much PCT, but some tricky questions (as file inspection in PCT)
    Claim analysis: Easier than last year, but still some tricky questions relating to e.g. undisclosed disclaimers

    All in all same level as last year, but legal part a bit more difficult and claim analysis a little bit easier

    1. Undisclosed disclaimers is a topic that I had not expected at the pre-exam: which European Patent Attorney would allow his/her trainees to draft amendments introducing undisclosed disclaimers? (Or -let's be honest- even to draft and file those themselves and take all the associaties risks?)

  2. I thought that "in due time" in 5.3 reflected the wording in R51(2), which allows payment in the following 6m with the extra fee. So I got 'F' for that one.
    Also, did you mean to have 'F' for 4.2? At the moment, it says 'T'.

    1. 5.3: the statement had the exact wording of Art.86(1), last sentence. Note also that R.51(2) does not give legal sanction, it rather offers the possibility to prevent any loss of rights by allowing to pay during another 6m at the cost of an extra 50%. The loss of rights only occurs at the end of the 6m period of R.51(2)

    2. Thx for noting the inconsistency between answer to 4.2 and the commentaar. I corrected my answer to be consistent with the comment.

    3. Let's continue the specific discussions for specific questions/ statements/legal issues in the thread with our preliminary answers to the legal part:

  3. Thank you so much for getting your answers for the legal section up so quickly! I suspect lots of pre-QE-ers will sleep easier tonight.

    I thought it tricker than the 2012/13 papers, though I think the inability to instantly check answers against the Examiner's comments probably skews my view of it.

    In the legal section, there seemed to be a few more traps to fall in to, and a few more obscure corners of the law to get into. It felt to me that there were also more questions that related to more than one 'topic'. All in all, though trickier, it felt a little more relevant to practice than past papers, so perhaps that's a good thing (I can say that now that I've been able to check my answers against yours!!).

    For the claim analysis, I felt after reading the prior art documents that I could guess roughly where the questions were going to take us. I was surprised by quite a few of them though! I had expected much more about combinations of D2 with D3 and D4. It was good to see some stuff on ranges and disclaimers worked into it without making the whole exam chemistry-based - I wondered if they would ever try to do that. It seemed that the questions on inventive step were perhaps reduced to make way for these questions - Q20 for example seemed to cover inventive step questions that in previous papers would have been spread over three or four different questions.

    The main feature of that exam for me though was that I must have spent a good half hour trying to decide if 'in particular' (not specifically mentioned in the guidelines/Visser etc) had exactly the same meaning as 'more particularly' (specifically mentioned in the guidelines), or if there was some subtle nuance that meant one was limiting while the other wasn't...

    1. In the main exam papers C and D, common to all candidates, usually the subject-matter includes a combination of simple electricity/mechanics (a product with some physical features; an electronic device with some electronical features - of which you do not need to have any understanding expect for what is explicitly given in the paper) and chemical aspects (compositions having various components in certain ranges; or some ranges in e.g. number of physical elements in a product). Even disclaimers (G1/03 & G2/03) have already been topics in a D-paper!
      So, the exam committee always tries -and in my view succeed- to find a fair balance between the two technical areas.

  4. Seemed to me that the legal questions were just fine, as easy or difficult as ever, but the claim analysis was imho more difficult - or maybe just more unclear - than in any prev paper. Several times I was not at all sure what the right answer was supposed to be (I found two possible answers and but still was unable to decide what was intended by the people who designed the paper).

    1. I had exactly the same impression

  5. I was suprised that except from this Art. 38 PCT question (file inspection), there was not much PCT.
    I also think it was evident that a chemist drafted the exam, as most of the more advanced questions were from the field of chemistry (filing experimental results, parameter ranges, disclaimers).
    I have to comments to the preliminary model answers by delta patents: Q 4.2: I think the intention here was to check wether the candidates know that the applicant has to reply to a negative extended EP search report (R. 70a(1) EPC). Since there are several deficiencies, I guess the correct answers is expected to be T, even though a mere reply may be enough. It is as always in the EQE: if you know more than expected you get driven off the expected answer.
    Q8.3: to get a fee reduction the notice as well as the reasoning has to be filed in the admissible non-EPO language. Here, I also thought they might want to see if one knows that the notice is not enough, so I answered F.

    I am curious how the anwswers concerning the disclaimers are.

    1. Dear Herrmada,

      thx for your comments.

      I added legal basis and arguments to my Preliminary answers ( and refer to that blog for the discussion on 4.2.

      8.3: you are correct that the "essential item of the first act" is the notice including the written reasoned statement of grounds - GL A-X, 9.2.4 & T 290/90. As it is indicated in the question that the (complete) notice is in Dutch, the reasoning is also in Dutch: it is part of the notice of opposition - R.76(2)(c)

    2. Q8.3 only mentiones the "notice of opposition". There is no "complete". One would have to assume that (i) a reasoning is filed at all, and that (ii) this reasoning was filed in Dutch. I chose F, as this would lead to the minimum number of assumptions. Otherwise one would have to add information to the question. It would have been easy to clarify the question. However, by the mere fact that the notice is filed in Dutch does not entitle the opponent to a fee reduction.

    3. Let's continue this discussion in the thread with our preliminary answers:

  6. I understood question 10.4 differently. I understood that the applicant wanted to remove mode X1 from the publication.
    For me the relevant rule was R68(1) EPC... Hence I replied "True". But it depends on whether one reads the question with a strict litteral meaning or with the implication that I perceived. I guess the litteral meaning was probably the correct one...

    1. Let's continue this specific discussion in the thread with our preliminary answers to the lagl part:

  7. Q16.4 I was afraid that the chemistry ecaminer how drafted this question wants to have T, but it is completely wrong, for the folloiwng reasons:
    (i) G 1/03 states that the disclaimer is not just considered allowable under Art. 123(2) if the legal purpose (Art. 54(3)) is fulfilled but also if the dsiclaimer doe snot contribute to inventive step
    (ii) The new GL 2013 H-V, 4.1 clarify (after T 1870/08, T 2464/10, and G2/10) that also in case of the so-called "undisclosed disclaimer", the remaining subject-matter has to be directly and unambiguously disclosed in the application as filed. However the application in the exam did not directly and unambiguously disclose 20-23% and 23-25%. Thus the answer should have been F.

    1. Let's continue this discussion in the thread with our preliminary answers to the claims analysis part:

  8. Hi
    Does anyone know when candidates are likely to receive their results?


    1. Hi Murray,

      Last year, the results were available on Friday March 22.

  9. I was very surprised to not find any question related to the filing or procecution of an international patent application. I had at least expected one such question. If I knew I would have focused my studies differently.

    1. Hi Karin

      I am also (unpleasently) surprised: As the PCT is a key topic, -in my view- it should have been the topics of two or three questions. I think the Exam Committee gives a wrong or misleading signal by not having at least two PCT questions. That would also have done justice to the study effort that candidates did put in.
      However, I am very certain that the Exam Committee also considers the PCT to be a key topics, so it will certainly be addressed again in future Pre-Exam questions, as it was in Pre-Exam 2012 (Q3; Q4; Q9) and 2013 (Q3 on EPC vs PCT differences; Q6; Q8)

      Regards, Roel

  10. Today (March 26), the Examiner's report was published on the EQE website.

    It gives the following answers:

    Q.1: F, T, T, T;
    Q.2: F, F, T, F;
    Q.3: F, T, T, F;
    Q.4: F, F, T, T;
    Q.5: F, F, T, F;
    Q.6: T, F, F, F;
    Q.7: F, F, F, T;
    Q.8: F, T, T, T;
    Q.9: T, T, F, T;
    Q.10: F, F, F, T.

    Q.11: T, T, T, T;
    Q.12: F, F, F, F;
    Q.13: T, T, F, T;
    Q.14: F, T, F, T;
    Q.15: F, F, F, F;
    Q.16: T, F, T, T;
    Q.17: T, F, T, F;
    Q.18: F, F, F, F;
    Q.19: F, F, F, F;
    Q.20: T, F, F, F;

    and differs from our answers for statement 10.4, 18.4 and 20.2.

    We would thus have obtained a score of 94 marks - not too bad!

    We must admit that 7 candidates scored higher in the Pre-Exam itself (one scored 98; 6 scored 96), and another 24 candidates also 94 marks.
    It would be interesting if those (1+6+24=31) candidates would share with us, and with our blog readers, which statements they had different from the Examiner's report, and to exchange our views on those! Please comment!

    Statement 10.4 is discussed in the comments to our legal post -
    Statements 18.4 and 20.2 are discussed in the comments to our claims analysis post -

    Feel invited to contribute to the discussion!