What does it mean that something is ”new”? New to you, new to some designated person, or new in an absolute sense? This naively straight forward, but in practice very complex, concept was the subject of our last class in preparation for the European Qualifying Examination (EQE). How can it be “new” to make a chemical reaction at, say, 73oC when someone previously proposed making the same reaction in the range 50-90oC? How can something be considered “not new” just because a doctoral thesis on the subject was just given a date stamp at a library?
Most people who have come across the patent world know that you may need professional representation to prosecute your case. Fewer know that those who want to become a European Patent Attorney must pass a fairly comprehensive examination that spans across three days and tests the candidate on most aspects of European patent law. And only those who actually prepared for the examination understand just how much detail you need to master in order to pass.
About half of all patent professionals at Awapatent are qualified European Patent Attorneys. To maintain a high pass rate at the examination, we have our own internal training program which dates back 20 years. It has had various names over the years, but today we simply call it EQE Basic. It runs for almost a year and includes 12 full-day classes, a substantial amount of homework, diagnostic tests, and a final in-house exam.
I was myself a student at the program during 2001-2002, and have been one of the tutors since 2004 together with Magnus Johansson and Sören Giver. It is one of the most rewarding tasks I have in my professional life, having the pleasure of each year training a dozen or so eager candidates. It is indeed true that you learn a lot by being a teacher! And the more you learn, the more enjoyable it gets. Or as I sometimes put it: “When you read a decision from an EPO Board of Appeal and actually enjoy it, you’ve come a long way.”
Mattias Pierrou, European Patent Attorney, Partner and Vice President