Monday, 29 February 2016

Pre-Exam 2016: First impressions?

To all who sat the Pre-Exam today:

What are your first impressions to this year's Pre-Exam? Any general or specific comments?

Were the legal topics well balanced?
Were the various aspects of claims analysis well balanced?
Was the balance between EPC and PCT right for you?
Which of the legal questions did you consider particularly difficult, and which relatively 'easy'?
How much time did you allocate for the legal questions, how much for the claims analysis part? Did you deviate from our original plan (for example, took more time for the legal questions than planned)?
Which part did you do first, the legal part or the claims analysis?
How many marks do you expect to have scored in the legal part, in the claims analysis, and for the whole
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?
How did this year's paper compare to the earlier pre-exams of 2012-2015 (assuming your practiced those) w.r.t. the pre-exam as a whole, w.r.t. the legal part and w.r.t. the claims analysis part?

The paper and our answers

Copies of the paper will be provided on this blog as soon as we have received copies of the papers, in all three languages here (English, French and German).

The core of our answers will be given as soon as possible in two separate blog posts:one for the legal questions and the another post for the claims analysis part.

We look forward to your comments!

Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

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 13-13-2015 13:13"), whereas using your real name or a pseudonym is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to the Pre-Exam paper as a whole, and to the two parts (legal part and claims analysis) as whole parts to this blog.
Please post substantial questions to specific legal questions to our post with our answers (available here) and claims analysis related questions to our post for that part (available here). Thanks!

Roel, Nico, Pete, Jelle, Gregory; 29/2/2016


  1. Personal impression: doable but globally more difficult than in previous years.
    The replies to the legal questions were well hidden, e.g. 1.3 (regarding publication of third party observations in OPPO) or 5.4 regarding whether power of attorney required for withdrawal when EPO is ISA (AFAIK, reply found only in the last sentence of PCT AG-IP 11.048, which indicates that the waiver for the power of attorney does NOT apply to a withdrawal).
    Also the claim analysis was rather difficult, with many claims to analyse (even more than in 2015 and with an awkward scope for many of them), some "tricks" regarding the openings (top of the pan) and question 18.2 (D2 cpa?) particularly difficult, D2 and D3 both seemed equally valid...

    1. What WAS the answer to 1.3?? I'm at home now with the internet and I still can't find it!

      Went with T - they are published - on the basis that obs are usually put on the file, and I found a rule that said the file is updated "while proceedings are ongoing", but I'm not convinced I was looking in the right place...


    2. I went for T because it was not in the list of things which are not published.

      Legel part was a bit more difficult than 2015, the PCT power of attorney EP phase question was difficult - I went for T no idea if this was ok.

      Claims analysis was really a pain in the ....
      Especially the II.1 - 3
      In my opinion holding means of claims II.1 - II.3 != securing means. II.4 - II.6 holding means == securing means.

      But I am totally brainfucked ... so I hope tomorrow things are more clear ;)

    3. Couldn't find it in Visser either, but Hoekstra mentions that it becomes part of the file (even if deemed not filed due to eg. language issues)


    4. I went for F because Gld. E-V, 3 merely states:

      "Although the third party is sent acknowledgment of the receipt of his observations (if these were not filed anonymously), the EPO does not specifically inform him of any further action it takes in response to them. However, the outcome of the evaluation by the competent Division will briefly be indicated in the respective office action from the EPO (e.g. in a communication or in the intention to grant) and will thus be visible to the public."

      According to that statement, it is only *thus* visible to the public, and not directly visible to the public.

    5. The pre-exam was very well made and tricky. But raising the score to 70 should have been following to the addition of extra time. It is useless make tricky and refined questions if the candidate have no the due time to reason about them with leisure, especially for non speakers. It should be a knowledge test not a speed test.

  2. Also 4.4 tricky, regarding whether an additional inventor can be added if the request is filed by the additional inventor with consent of the applicant. In GL and Visser I was only able to find that the applicant must sign the request. Is a request sent by the inventor with consent of the applicant equally valid (consent=signed)? Or did I miss some legal basis / decisions in this regard?

    1. I based my answer (T) on rule 21(1) and Visser's commentary. He refers to J8/82 for this situation.

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  4. Legal was pretty much the same as 2015, except no priority and only 1 question PCT.
    I was rather surprised about the infringement question in legal.

    Claim analysis was more difficult than 2015.
    The subject was simple - saucepans.
    They asked difficult 123 questions, and I thought the clarity questions were more difficult as well.
    There was also more PSA than previous years.
    Looking forward to your solution!

  5. I also thought one of the 123 questions was tricky (the first one) - I thought the amendment was not allowable, but didn't think that was because it extended subject matter so much as it introduced unclarity.

    Overall: trickier than 2015, especially the claims part, but still doable. I was especially surprised at question 8, since it addresses matters I haven't seen in previous pre-Exams (esp. 8.2 & 8.3)

    1. Oops, meant to sign that too - HJ

  6. For 18.2, did you answer T for D2 as c.p.a.?

    Here my answers:
    1. F T T T
    2. F F F F
    3. F F T T
    4. T F T
    5. T T T T
    6. T T F F
    7. T F F T
    8. T T F F
    9. T F T T
    10. T F T T
    11. F T T F
    12. T F T F
    13. T T T F
    14. F F F T
    15. F F T F
    16. F F F T
    17. F F F F
    18. F T F T
    19. T F F F
    20. T F F T

    1. 4. should read T T F T

    2. Thanks for posting that. I've checked and my answers differ on 6 statements, all from different questions. It gives me hope that we agree on 74/80 statements!


    3. I pretty much agree on the first 10 (Q5.3 F instead of T). But there seem to be some surprises for one of us on the claim analysis (Q16-19) :-)

      01 FTTT
      02 FFFF
      03 FFTT
      04 TTFT
      05 TTFT
      06 TTFF
      07 TFFT
      08 TTFF
      09 TFTT
      10 TFTT
      11 FTTF
      12 TFTF
      13 TTTF
      14 FFFT
      15 FFTF
      16 TTFT
      17 TFFF
      18 FTFF
      19 FFFF
      20 TFFT

    4. Agree with all the legal part answers


    5. Regarding D2 as closest prior art in 18.2, I answered TRUE. The way I looked at it, D2 has all of the integers of II.1 (saucepan / lid, perforations 19, holding means (skirt priort 42, see Fig.3 and para [004]) and differs only from II.2 in that the lid is moveable about a horizontal axis rather than a vertical one.


  7. Looks good, agree with most. In legal section, disagree with 5.3.

    1. Yes I had F for 5.3, referring to PCT App. Guide 10.031

    2. And I disagree with 5.4: it is not needed that a separate power of attorney is filed by the representative, as valid appointment can also be done in the request form is the applicant signs the request - see PCT Rule 90.4(a) or App. Guide 11.007. So, the answer to 5.4 is F.


    3. 5.4 was about withdrawal. Answer is T

    4. True, but it askes whether a PoA needs to be filed for a withdrawal by the representative. That is not needed: the requirement is a valid a and explicit/signed appointment (i.e., the waiver does not apply), and that can be done by the applicant signing the request wherein the representative is appointed, and the applicant filing the request. In that case, the representative can validly withdraw.


    5. I agree with Johan with 5.4 being False.

      In 5.1 I understood that Greta herself filed the PCT-G with DPMA, thus no agent was appointed on filing the international application. Therefore she now wants to appoint an agent (Hassan) to represent her specifically before the EPO as the ISA. In this situation the agent must be entitled to practise before the EPO, which Hassan is not. Thus 5.1 would be False. Did anyone else follow this kind of reasoning?


    6. I agree with Jay according to 5.1.

      I do not agree with 5.4. From the question it is vlesr that the request was signed by applicant and there was no appointment in the request. So according ti R.90.4 pct the separate Power of attorney shall be filed.

    7. @Jay & Marcin:
      see for a more extensive discussion on 5.1 and 5.4.

      5.1 is T because of PCT Art.49

  8. Legal analysis was at the same level as 2014 and 2015. Some unexpected questions on new subjects (renewal fees during the patent year, representation before EPO as ISA), but the question designers have to be inventive too and it is within the rules of the game. Doable. I agree on all legal questions with "Second".

    Claim analysis is getting worse every year : 4 pages of description, 3 sets of claims, the first one with 13 claims including multiple dependencies and alternatives, 4 pieces of prior art with all kind of combinations to be studied on ever changing claim features. Quite evasive clarity questions ("Is claim X clear ?"), grey-zone questions on what is or not prior art and on what would or not be combined. I think they could stop here with inventiveness on claim analysis... and truly hope not to re-sit next year :-) !

  9. I found the frist part easyer than last year (I did the Exam for the second time ;) ). Even though It took ages to get through the frist two Questions. I don't know why they put the hard ones in the front. The second Part was harder. So many Claims Dokuments an so on.

    1. It became a little difficult to manage all the papers in the claims part. Obviously to answer the questions you want to simultaneously look at the question sheet, the sheet with the notional claim set, the client's spec and the pieces of prior art. But these are all stapled together! Removing the staple made it all a bit unmanagable.

      I would advise students next year to bring a staple remover and several bulldog clips or similar.


  10. My first impression was that both the legal as the claim analysis part was more difficult than in the previous years.

    For the legal part I definitely has to look up more things to know the answers, while for previous exams I only had to look up to verify that my answer was correct. I finished the exam in about two hours and spend the extra time to reread the questions. I changed quite some answers upon re-reading, which I also didn't encounter for previous exams.

    The amount of documents and claims made the claim analysis part more complicated.

  11. both first and second parts was more difficult than in previous years.

    The amount of documents and claims to analyse was more important than previously.

    It took me ages to answer the first part, compared to previous exams; four hours were just enough!

  12. My overall impression:
    Legal part a tad more difficult than previous years, first run took me 30 minutes, second run (with more detailed looking up) another 30 minutes. a lot of time got eaten up by the claim analysis part I would have liked to spend a bit more time on the legal part. Probably 46 or 48 points.

    Claim analysis part was clearly harder than in the previous years ("anspruchsvoll", literally). A lot of information to process and two instead of one equally (?) "promising springboards" (D2 and D3) lead to quite a lot of uncertainty. I actually have no idea how I fared. This part took me roughly three hours. I might say this part was as hard as the September 2013 mock exam (key/keyboard).

    Time was sufficient, but barely. Would not have hurt to have a bit more time (I did the previous exams without having seen them previously easily in 2-3 hours).

  13. Both parts more difficult than previous years. Claims analysis section contained far more subjective questions than expected, which is very poor for T/F type questions.


    1. I agree, I was so upset at how subjective the claim analysis was. Really unfair in my opinion when we can't justify our construction.

  14. There's very little to add to the above comments. Very tricky questions. This, in turn, begs one simple question: what was the true intention of this exam - to check one's overall solid knowledge of the procedure and substantive law OR to trick you by asking some very minor less significant details of the procedure (this refers to the legal part). No questions on R.159 EPC, no priority questions, no proper substantial PCT questions (priority, its correction, request, demand, etc.). I mean things which could be TRULY of practical value / significance were not asked.
    The claims part with 4 docs + description of the invention on 3 pages with 3 embodiments was way too much. A question on infringement comes on top of the list, of course.
    Did my best and the legal part should be fine. Let's keep those fingers crossed though :)

  15. Nachdem auch explizit nach nicht-englischen Kommentaren gefragt wurde:
    Die Rechtsfragen waren etwas schwerer als letztes Jahr, zudem musste man bei manchen Fragen wirklich lange suchen, bin man die entsprechenden Passagen in den Richtlinien - wenn überhaupt - gefunden hat. Die Akteneinsichtfrage konnte ich nur aufgrund meiner Erfahrung beantworten, da ich genau das vor nem halben Jahr bei der Akteneinsicht geshen habe.

    5.4 habe ich mit "Wahr" beantwortet. Auch wenn der Lösungsvorschlag "Falsch" sagt, bin ich mir immer noch nicht sicher, ob das wirklich der Fall ist.

    Die Anspruchsanalyse war dieses Jahr meiner Meinung nach sinnbefreit. Das Ziel war diese einfach nur schwer zu machen. Zuviel Text und teils total obskure Ansprüche. Die Fragen dazu waren auch nicht einfach und wirklich klar formuliert waren auch nicht alle ...

    1. I agree with the lack of Clarity to be blamed on the EPÜ ;)
      Maybe they have decided that there are already enough number of agents


  16. I agree that the claims analysis part had extremely strange claims, which kept distracting me a bit :-)
    Maybe a silly question: Is it already known when we will be receiving our final official Preexam results? I cannot find anything on this in the correspondence or on the EQE website ...

  17. The questions of the legal part are discussed in detail in the discussions to the parallel blog:

  18. Does anybody know, when we will get the results from the EPO?

    I agree with a lot of people here. The legal part was a little harder than the years before, but still not unfair. But the claim part was too much, really too much! And the multiple dependencies and the kind of asking questions was just tricky, but I think not an appropriate means to check the knowledge of the candidates:(

  19. I read all your comments, and there is nothing more to add. Clearly, the claims analysis part had tricky questions and was far more difficult than during previous years exams.

    By the way, I believe that 4h30 to finish correctly the exam would be more beneficial for the candidates.

    The pre-exam was this year very tricky and does not make it very interesting regarding the kind of questions of the real EEQ.

    1. Another 30 minutes in the Bristol exam hall and I would have got hypothermia...

    2. Yeah, I had to leave 45m early I couldn't stand it in there! Don't suppose anyone had a Thermometer on the day? Heard it was about 12c for the rest of the week.. Assume it was slightly colder on the Monday if they had only just put the pathetic heaters on! Annoyed at myself for not staying a rereading again.

  20. Stupid point system. see you there next year.

  21. Total score 67. I feel so crestfallen..

  22. results are out guys!