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Law & practice

Official Journal December 2018

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Citation: OJ EPO 2018, A108
Online publication date: 21.12.2018

Announcement of the European qualifying examination 2020 - Pre-examination and main examination

I. General

The current Regulation on the European qualifying examination (REE) and its Implementing provisions (IPREE) are available on the European qualifying examination (EQE) website (www.epo.org/learning-events/eqe.html).

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.

1. Compulsory registration

Candidates must register once they have commenced their professional training (Article 11(2) REE).

Enrolment for the pre-examination 2020 will only be possible for candidates who have registered by 15 January 2019 at the latest (see Notice from the Examination Secretariat, OJ EPO 2018, A99).

Candidates who have already been admitted to the EQE (pre- or main examination) are already registered and therefore do not need to register again even if they have not yet sat an examination paper.

2. Dates of the pre-examination and the main examination and deadlines for enrolment

2.1 Date of the pre-examination and enrolment deadline

The pre-examination will be held on
16 March 2020.

Registered candidates may enrol from
1 February until 30 April 2019. After 30 April 2019, it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the pre-examination 2020.

2.2 Date of the main examination and enrolment deadline

The main examination will be held from
17 to 19 March 2020.

Candidates may enrol from 1 April until 12 August 2019. After 12 August 2019, it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the main examination 2020.

To ensure a smooth enrolment procedure for the EQE, candidates are reminded of the strict application of the closing dates for enrolment. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply.

3. Payment of fees

Fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer. 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 pay by credit card 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 not be processed until the payment has been received.

The EPO does not issue invoices relating to EQE fees. A confirmation of payment will, however, be sent automatically by email once the application has been processed. The confirmation will be sent to the address given by the candidate.

4. Withdrawal

At any time up to the official start of an individual paper, candidates may withdraw in writing from that paper or any subsequent papers.

If the Examination Secretariat is informed of the withdrawal no later than 30 September 2019, the examination fees paid for sitting the respective paper(s) will be refunded. However, the enrolment fee is not refundable.

Candidates wishing to withdraw may do so by email (helpdesk@eqe.org), fax or registered mail, clearly indicating their EQEReg.

Non-attendance without withdrawal in due time will lead to the paper(s) being awarded a FAIL grade with a mark of zero. This mark and this grade will replace any marks or grades previously obtained for the paper(s) concerned. The fee increments as defined in Rule 8 IPREE will also apply.

II. Enrolment process

1. Online access

Applications must be filed online via the EQE website (www.epo.org/learning-events/eqe.html).

After submission of data, candidates will receive an overview of their EQE enrolment in the form of a PDF document. This should be kept as proof of their EQE application, until they receive their admission letter.

2. Professional activity

2.1 Required periods of professional activity

Candidates wishing to 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 16 March 2020.

Candidates who have passed the pre-examination and wish to enrol for the main examination for the first time must, at the date of the examination, have completed a total period as defined in Article 11(2)(a) REE of at least three years.

By submitting their application, candidates declare that the information they have provided is true and accurate and notably that they will have completed the required period of professional activity by the date of the examination.

In this context, candidates and their trainers are reminded of their duty to inform the Examination Secretariat of any changes in professional activity.

2.2 Remission of the period of professional activity – Article 11(5) REE and Rule 16 IPREE

The following courses are recognised according to Rule 16(1) IPREE:

  • "Diplôme d'études internationales de la propriété industrielle ("cycle long")" from CEIPI in Strasbourg (academic years 2008/2009, 2011/2012 and subsequent years until 2018/2019)
  • "Advanced Master in Intellectual Property Law and Knowledge Management" from Maastricht University (academic years 2010/2011 and subsequent years until 2018/2019)

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. It 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. In this case a request for remission (Rule 16(3) IPREE) is possible, which can be filed with the application for enrolment for the main examination.

2.3 EPO examiners

Candidates who by 16 March 2020 will have performed the duties of a patent examiner at the EPO for at least three years full-time may enrol for the pre-examination.

Candidates who have passed the pre-examination and wish to enrol for the main examination for the first time will, at the date of the examination, have to have performed the duties of a patent examiner at the EPO for at least four years full-time.

3. Choice of papers

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 that paper will no longer be valid (Rule 6(5) IPREE).

4. 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 enrolment is equal to the basic fee. This fee is not refundable, even if the application is rejected.

(c) The fee for sitting the pre-examination paper and each of the main examination papers is equal to the basic fee.

(d) Fees cannot be transferred or reassigned to a future EQE.

4.1 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.

The fee increase will also apply to candidates who did not withdraw from a specific paper and were deemed to have sat that paper.

4.2 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 request a subsidy via the EQE web portal when enrolling for the examination. This is possible during the entire enrolment period.

The EPO will not refund any subsidised fees, even if a candidate withdraws from an examination paper before the given deadline. 

5. 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.

Once centres have been allocated, they cannot be changed. The date on which an application is received does not influence a candidate's allocation to any particular examination centre.

6. Communications

After submission of the data, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the email address specified by candidates.

Candidates will be informed in writing of the decision of the Examination Secretariat concerning their application for enrolment.

Candidates must undertake to inform the Examination Secretariat without delay of any changes to the information they have provided, notably with regard to their professional activity.

III. Additional information

Candidates are advised that matters relating to the EQE are of a personal nature and that enrolment and payment of fees should not be entrusted to third parties. It is the responsibility of individual candidates to ensure that their application as well as payment are received in due time.

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. Candidate contact details

Candidates must supply correct and complete contact details 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 email address to enable the Examination Secretariat to dispatch important information. Candidates are reminded that the acknowledgement of receipt of their application will be sent only to this email 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.

2. 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.