EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Announcement of the European qualifying examination 2017
Pre-examination and main examination
The current Regulation on the European qualifying examination (REE) and its implementing provisions (IPREE) (Supplementary publication 2, OJ EPO 2014) are available on the website of the European qualifying examination (www.epo.org/eqe). The provisions of the REE and IPREE apply equally to the pre-examination.
The examination consisting of the four papers - A, B, C and D - will be referred to as "the main examination".
Candidates must file their application via the web portal provided on the European qualifying examination (EQE) website (www.epo.org/eqe).
Candidates are advised that matters relating to the EQE are of a personal nature and that enrolment, registration and the payment of fees should not be entrusted to third parties. It is the responsibility of individual candidates to ensure that their complete application, including payment, is received in due time.
Fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer.
To ensure a smooth enrolment procedure for the EQE 2017, candidates are reminded of the strict application of the closing dates for enrolment. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply.
Candidates are advised to regularly consult the EQE website. Please refer to the frequently asked questions (www.epo.org/learning-events/eqe/faq.html) before contacting the Examination Secretariat.
1. Dates of the pre-examination and the main examination and deadlines for enrolment
1.1 Date of the pre-examination and deadline
The pre-examination will be held on 6 March 2017.
The web portal will be available from 1 April 2016 until 2 June 2016. After 2 June 2016 the web portal will be closed and it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the pre-examination 2017.
1.2 Date of the main examination and deadline
The main examination will be held from 7 to 9 March 2017.
The web portal will be available from 14 July 2016 until 8 September 2016. After 8 September 2016 the web portal will be closed and it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the main examination 2017.
2. Payment of fees
Fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer. It is not possible to pay the fees by debiting an EPO deposit account. If the prescribed fees are not validly paid, the application for enrolment will be deemed not to have been filed.
Candidates are strongly recommended to use a credit card as their method of payment as this will ensure swift payment. Payments by bank transfer are considered to have been made on the date on which the amount of the transfer is actually entered in the bank account held by the EPO (see Article 7 of the Rules relating to Fees). Candidates are reminded that a bank transfer may take time and it is therefore not recommended as a payment method shortly before the relevant deadline. Late receipt of payment will lead to the application being rejected.
It is entirely the candidate's responsibility to ensure that the fees are paid in due time. Candidates are strongly advised not to entrust the payment of fees to third parties and to proceed with the payment of the fees in due time to ensure that they are received by the EPO by the relevant closing date.
The application will only be processed once the payment is received.
The EPO does not issue invoices relating to EQE fees. A confirmation of payment will however be sent to candidates automatically once their application has been processed.
At any time up to the official start of an individual paper, candidates may withdraw in writing from this paper or any subsequent papers.
If the Examination Secretariat is informed of the withdrawal no later than 7 October 2016, the examination fees paid for sitting the respective paper(s) will be refunded. However, the fee for registration and enrolment is not refundable.
Candidates wishing to withdraw may do so by registered mail, fax or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), indicating clearly their EQEReg.
Paper(s) from which candidates do not withdraw as described above will be considered as having been sat. Candidates will be awarded a FAIL grade with a mark of zero for the paper(s) from which they did not withdraw. This mark and this grade will replace any marks or grade previously obtained for the paper(s) concerned. The fee increments as defined in Rule 8 IPREE will also apply.
II. Enrolment process
1. Web portal access
The web portal for registration and enrolment for the EQE 2017 is available on the EQE website (www.epo.org/eqe). Applications can only be filed via the web portal on the EQE website, following carefully the instructions given there.
Candidates are strongly advised not to wait until the deadline before starting their application as the process requires some time.
Candidates who already have an EQEReg number and password or have been issued with a personal activation code by the Examination Secretariat must use these credentials to enrol.
Candidates who have never applied previously to the EQE must create a user account to be able to register and enrol.
Before accessing the web portal, candidates should make sure that all required documents (see Rule 1 IPREE) are readily available.
2. Contact details of candidates
Candidates must supply correct and complete contact data in order to guarantee timely communication. When using a business address, the company's name must be clearly indicated.
Candidates must also supply a personal e-mail address to enable the Examination Secretariat to dispatch important information. Candidates are reminded that the acknowledgement of receipt of their application will only be sent to this e-mail address. Candidates are obliged to inform the Examination Secretariat of any changes in their contact details to ensure receipt of important letters.
Correspondence not received due to candidates' failure to update their contact details will nonetheless be deemed to have been received.
3. Enrolment and submission of data
Applications must be filed via the web portal on the EQE website, following carefully the instructions given there. Pursuant to Article 11(6) REE, an application for registration and enrolment will not be deemed to have been filed until after the prescribed fees have been paid. Therefore the date of receipt of the application is the date of payment as stipulated under I, point 2 above.
After submission of data, candidates will receive an overview of their data in the form of a pdf document.
- Candidates wishing to enrol for the pre-examination for the first time must print and sign this overview and upload it together with all relevant supporting documents (see points 4, 5 and 6 hereunder).
- Candidates who have been previously admitted to the EQE (pre-examination or main examination) are not required to upload the overview. They should however keep it as evidence of having applied for the EQE until such time as they receive their admission letter.
4. Uploading of the signed overview and supporting evidence
Where applicable, the signed overview and supporting evidence must be uploaded without delay. For this purpose, a link will be available at the end of the enrolment process. The same link will be sent to the registered e-mail address of the candidates. The link will be active for ten days.
Applications which are submitted after the relevant closing date or are incomplete will be refused. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply.
5. Supporting evidence
All documents must be officially certified, preferably by a professional representative before the EPO (Article 134 EPC). They can also be certified by a competent national authority in a contracting state to the European Patent Convention.
The certified documents should be scanned and uploaded as pdf documents via the provided link. The certificate of training and employment must be signed by the relevant persons and also be uploaded. This certificate does not need to be certified.
Where an uploaded document is illegible or incomplete, that part of it which is illegible or incomplete will be deemed not to have been received. If an uploaded document is infected with a computer virus or contains other malicious software, it will be deemed to be illegible. The EPO is not obliged to receive, open or process it.
Receipt of uploaded documents will be acknowledged automatically by e-mail once the upload is completed. Subsequent filing of uploaded documents in paper form is not necessary and will not be taken into consideration.
6. Scientific or technical qualifications
Candidates wishing to register and enrol for the pre-examination for the first time are referred to Article 11(1)(a) REE and Rules 11 to 14 IPREE.
With regard to Rule 11(2) IPREE, a transcript of record for a candidate's degree must be provided to prove that at least 80% of the course hours taken were devoted to scientific and/or technical subjects. Where available, candidates should also submit an ECTS transcript of records.
Should a candidate possess a degree, diploma or certificate from an educational establishment in a non-contracting state, he must provide an official document from a competent authority in one of the contracting states attesting that this degree, diploma or certificate is equivalent to a degree as mentioned in Rule 11 IPREE. Candidates should be aware that obtaining such an official document may take up to two months.
7. Professional activity
7.1 Periods of professional activity
Candidates wishing to register and enrol for the pre-examination for the first time must have completed a total period as defined in Article 11(2)(a) REE of at least two years by 6 March 2017.
Candidates who have passed the pre-examination and who wish to enrol for the main examination for the first time must have completed a total period as defined in Article 11(2)(a) REE of at least three years by 6 March 2017.
In this context candidates and their trainers are reminded of their duty to inform the Examination Secretariat of any changes in the professional activity.
7.2 Remission of the period of professional activity – Article 11(5) REE and Rule 16(1) IPREE
Candidates may be granted a six-month reduction in the required period of professional activity for the following courses completed during the specified academic year indicated in brackets:
- "Diplôme d'études internationales de la propriété industrielle ("cycle long")" from CEIPI in Strasbourg (academic years 2008/2009, 2011/2012 and subsequent years until 2015/2016).
- "Advanced Master in Intellectual Property Law and Knowledge Management" from Maastricht University (academic years 2010/2011 and subsequent years until 2015/2016).
7.3 Type of professional activity
(a) With regard to Article 11(2)(a)(i) REE, the candidate's training supervisor must have been entered on the list of professional representatives before the EPO (Article 134 EPC) for the entire duration of the candidate's period of training.
(b) With regard to Article 11(2)(a)(ii) REE, the certificate of employment alone does not fulfil the requirements. Candidates must also prove that, over the relevant period of time, they have actively represented their employer before the EPO in a number of proceedings relating to a wide range of activities pertaining to European patents and patent applications. These activities must have been carried out within the framework of a general authorisation or single authorisations (Article 133(3) EPC) granted by their employers. Article 11(2)(a)(ii) REE does not apply if the representation in question was undertaken to a large extent by a professional representative before the EPO (Article 134 EPC).
(c) The eight-month training period with the German patent authorities does not constitute a period of professional activity as defined in Article 11(2)(a) REE. This constitutes an interruption of the training period according to Article 11(2)(a) REE which must be communicated in a timely manner to the Examination Secretariat. However, a request for remission (Rule 16(3) IPREE) is possible in this case.
(d) Only professional activity over a minimum period of three months with at least 50% part-time involvement will be considered.
8. EPO examiners
Candidates who by the date of the pre-examination have performed the duties of a patent examiner at the EPO for at least three years full-time may enrol for said examination.
They must submit a certificate available on the EPO intranet.
9. Choice of papers
The pre-examination consists of one paper as defined in Rule 10 IPREE.
The main examination consists of four papers, A, B, C and D as defined in Rules 23 to 26 IPREE. Candidates must indicate which paper(s) they intend to sit (Article 15 REE). Candidates may only re-sit paper(s) which they have not passed (Article 16(1) REE). If a candidate re-sits a paper, any marks and grade previously obtained for this paper will no longer be valid (Rule 6(5) IPREE).
With effect from 2017, a single Paper A and a single Paper B will be set in technical fields that are accessible to everyone.
10. Fees - Rules 7 and 8 IPREE
The basic fee is EUR 200.
(a) Fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer. It is not possible to pay the fees by debiting an EPO deposit account.
(b) The fee for an application for registration and enrolment is equal to the basic fee. This fee is under no circumstances refundable.
(c) The fee for sitting the pre-examination paper and each of the main examination papers is equal to the basic fee.
(d) In the case of a refused application, even if the application is refused for late payment, under no circumstances will the registration fee be refunded. Fees cannot be transferred or reassigned to a future EQE.
10.1 Fee increments
Pursuant to Rule 8(2) IPREE, fee increments apply as of the examination year 2010. Their calculation is based on the examination papers sat in 2010 or thereafter.
150% of the basic fee must be paid for sitting a paper for a third time since 2010. The examination fee for this paper will amount to EUR 300.
200% of the basic fee must be paid for sitting a paper for a fourth time since 2010. The examination fee for this paper will amount to EUR 400.
400% of the basic fee must be paid for sitting a paper for the fifth time or more since 2010. The examination fee for this paper will amount to EUR 800.
The fee increase will also apply to candidates who did not withdraw from a specific paper and were deemed to have sat this paper.
10.2 Examination fee subsidies
Candidates permanently resident and working in the EPO member states AL, BG, HR, CY, CZ, EE, MK, GR, HU, LV, LT, MT, PL, PT, RO, RS, SK, SI or TR may file a request for subsidised examination fees. The request form is available under the following link:
Candidates must send their request for subsidies before submitting their application to sit the EQE.
Candidates are reminded of the strict application of the closing dates for enrolment to the EQE. These dates cannot be extended due to any pending fee-subsidy requests.
When applying, candidates declare that the information provided by them is true and accurate and that they will undertake to inform the Examination Secretariat of any changes to this information.
12. Examination centres
The EQE will be held at the EPO's sites in Munich, The Hague and Berlin, as well as at other locations to be determined by the Examination Secretariat. The Examination Secretariat makes every effort to take candidates' preferences into account with regard to choice of examination centre. Unfortunately this is not always possible. Candidates will therefore not necessarily be able to sit the examination at their preferred centre.
Please be advised that once a centre has been allocated to you, it cannot be changed. The date on which an application is received does not influence a candidate's allocation to any particular examination centre.
13. Acknowledgement of receipt
After submission of the data and, when required, upload of the supporting evidence, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the e-mail address specified by candidates.
14. Information on data protection
Candidates' personal data will be processed fairly and lawfully, for the sole and predefined purpose of conducting the EQE and in particular:
- registration and enrolment for the EQE
- payment of the prescribed fees for the EQE
- creation and maintenance of files
- appeal procedure
- administration of answer papers and marking procedure
- publication of EQE results and statistics.
Relevant data may be passed on to the EPO finance department and external service providers for the sole purpose of processing payments. The data will not however be passed on to any third parties other than those involved in the above processes.