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 having been passed by more than 7000 candidates already.
About the EQE
The examination is organised and conducted by a Supervisory Board, an Examination Board, Examination Committees and an Examination Secretariat.
Aim of the EQE
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:
Pre-examination (4 hours)
assesses candidates' ability to answer legal questions and questions relating to the drafting of claims
Paper A (3 1/2 hours)
tests the candidate's ability to draft claims and the introductory part of a European patent application.
Paper B (3 hours)
requires candidates to prepare a reply to an official letter in which prior art has been cited.
Paper C (5 hours)
involves drafting a notice of opposition to a European patent.
Paper D (5 hours)
assesses candidates' ability to answer legal questions and to draft legal assessments.
Passing the EQE
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.
Admittance and enrolment
Candidates are admitted to the EQE if, on the date of the examination, they meet the following requirements:
Candidates must possess a scientific or technical qualification - for example, in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, electronics, pharmacology or physics.
Any decisions regarding the admission to the examination are based on the conditions laid down in 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.
b) Professional activity
Candidates must have trained 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 three years.
The EQE is held once a year, usually end of February/beginning of March. A notice indicating the examination dates and the closing dates for enrolment is published in the Official Journal (April of the preceding year).
d) Examination fee
The fee payable depends on the number of papers for which the candidate enrols. The basic fee is currently 200 EUR.
Web portal of the European qualifying examination (available as of 1 April 2016, 12.00 hrs CET)
The online application takes about 15 minutes and must be completed by the closing date.
Candidates who have been previously admitted to the EQE (pre-examination or main examination) are not required to sign or submit the overview. However, those who still need to provide proof of their third year of training should have the signed certificate readily available in PDF format for uploading.
The web portal is optimised for Internet Explorer 10.0 or above and Mozilla Firefox 31 or above.
To properly display PDF-documents, please install Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer (free software available from http://www.adobe.com).
Announcement of the European qualifying examination 2017 - pre-examination and main examination
Certificate of training or employment
The examination consisting of four papers - A, B, C and D - will be referred to as "the main examination". Candidates may enrol for the main examination as from 14 July 2016.
Candidates may enrol as from 1 April 2016. Applications must be submitted no later than 2 June 2016 via the web portal.
2. Main examination
Candidates may enrol as from 14 July 2016. Applications must be submitted no later than 8 September 2016 via the web portal.