Announcement of the European qualifying examination 2015
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 are advised that they must file their application via the web portal provided on the European qualifying examination (EQE) website (www.epo.org/eqe).
In addition to the electronic application all relevant documents (including supporting documents where applicable) must be filed in paper. These should be addressed to the European Patent Office, Examination Secretariat for the European qualifying examination, 80298 Munich, Germany.
Candidates are reminded 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 2015, candidates are reminded of the strict application of the closing dates for enrolment. Applications which are received after the relevant closing date or are incomplete will be refused. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply.
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 23 February 2015.
The web portal will be available from 1 April 2014 until 2 June 2014. After 2 June 2014 it will not be possible to apply for enrolment to the pre-examination 2015.
1.2 Date of the main examination and deadline
The main examination will be held from 24 to 26 February 2015.
The web portal will be available from 14 July 2014 until 8 September 2014. After 8 September 2014 it will not be possible to apply for enrolment to the main examination 2015.
2. Payment methods
Fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer. Fees may not be paid 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 credit card as method of payment as this will ensure swift payments.
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 31 October 2014, 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 are advised to do so by registered mail or by fax. Candidates may also withdraw by e-mail, in which case their attention is drawn to the notice dated 12 September 2000 concerning correspondence with the Office via e-mail (OJ EPO 2000, 458).
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 2015 is available on the EQE website (www.epo.org/eqe).
Candidates wishing to enrol for the pre-examination for the first time must register as a new user.
Candidates wishing to enrol for the main examination or for re-sitting the pre-examination must use their personal access data (user ID and password) issued by the Examination Secretariat.
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.
3. Enrolment and submission of data
Applications must be filed via the web portal on the EQE website, paying careful attention to the instructions given therein. The date of receipt is the date on which the complete data is successfully submitted electronically.
After completion of the online application, candidates will receive an overview of their data as well as further important information in the form of a pdf document. This overview must be printed, signed and sent together with all relevant supporting documents to the Examination Secretariat.
The submission of data via the web portal is not sufficient to enrol for the EQE. Candidates must submit all the necessary supporting evidence together with the signed overview of the online application; otherwise the application will be refused.
4. Supplying the signed overview and, when required, supporting evidence
The signed overview and the originals or certified copies of the required enclosures must be submitted as soon as possible after having applied online. The application will be processed only after all documents in paper form have been received at the Examination Secretariat. It is strongly recommended to use registered mail with advice of delivery.
Failure to provide the originals or certified copies at the latest ten days after the respective deadline will result in the application being refused. The EPO date stamp constitutes proof of receipt.
For candidates who have been previously admitted to the EQE (pre-examination or main examination), the transmission of the signed overview by fax will suffice. Where a document transmitted by fax is illegible or incomplete, the fax will be deemed not to have been received.
Candidates may also hand in their documents at one of the EPO post rooms (in Munich, The Hague or Berlin) and bring their own copy to be stamped to confirm receipt. The EPO date stamp will constitute proof of receipt.
Applications which are received after the relevant closing date or are incomplete will be refused. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply.
Documents may be officially certified by a professional representative before the EPO (Article 134 EPC), a competent national authority in a contracting state to the European Patent Convention, or the EPO in Munich (only by prior arrangement with the Examination Secretariat – e-mail: email@example.com).
5. 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 candidates' 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.
Candidates who possess a degree, diploma or certificate from an educational establishment in a non-contracting state 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.
6. Professional activity
6.1 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 up to 1 March 2015.
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 up to 1 March 2015.
In this context candidates and their trainers are reminded of their duty to inform the Examination Secretariat of any changes in their professional activity.
6.2 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 2012/2013).
- "Master of Advanced Studies in Intellectual Property" from Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule "ETH" Zurich (academic years 2008/2009 and 2009/2010).
- "Advanced Master in Intellectual Property Law and Knowledge Management" from Maastricht University (academic years 2010/2011, 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014).
6.3 Type of professional activity
(a) With regard to Article 11(2)(a)(i) REE, 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 good time 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.
7. 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.
8. Choice of papers
The pre-examination consists of one paper as defined in Rule 10 IPREE.
The main examination consists of the 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).
9. 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. Fees may not be paid 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, even if the application is refused by the Examination Secretariat.
(c) The fee for sitting the pre-examination paper and each of the main examination papers is equal to the basic fee.
9.1 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 a fifth time 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.
Candidate Y sat papers A, B, C and D for the first time in 2010.
In 2012, he re-sat paper A.
In 2013, he enrolled for papers A, B and C, but did not show up for paper C and did not withdraw his application for this paper.
In 2014, he enrolled for papers A, B and C, but withdrew his enrolment for paper B.
In 2015, he enrols for papers A, B, C and D.
The prescribed fees for the EQE 2015 would then be as follows:
- Registration and enrolment: EUR 200
- Paper A: EUR 800 (paper would be sat for the fifth time since 2010; 400% of the basic fee must be paid)
- Paper B: EUR 300 (paper would be sat for the third time since 2010; 150% of the basic fee must be paid)
- Paper C: EUR 400 (paper would be deemed to have been sat for the fourth time since 2010 given that the candidate had not withdrawn in 2013; 200% of the basic fee must be paid)
- Paper D: EUR 200 (paper would be sat for the second time since 2010; no fee increase applies).
Total: EUR 1 900
9.2 Payment of the fees
A candidate's application for registration and/or enrolment for the pre-examination or main examination is deemed to have been received on the date on which the payment of the prescribed fees is considered to have been made. If this date is after the respective closing date, the application will be refused. Articles 121 and 122 EPC do not apply. With regard to what constitutes the date to be considered as the date of payment, see Article 7 of the Rules relating to Fees.
Once again, candidates are reminded that fees relating to the EQE may only be paid by credit card or bank transfer. Fees may not be paid by debiting an EPO deposit account.
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.
9.3 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 should send their request for subsidies before submitting their application to sit the EQE 2015.
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 signing the overview of the online application, 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. With their signature on the overview, candidates bindingly apply for enrolment to the EQE 2015 and will ensure that the relevant fees are duly paid.
11. 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 get 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 have any influence on candidates' allocation to a particular examination centre.
12. Acknowledgment of receipt
After completion of the online application, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the e-mail address specified by candidates. Receipt of the documents in paper form will also be acknowledged by e-mail.
Letters of admission will be dispatched at the end of December 2014 at the latest.
13. 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 purpose of processing payments. The data will not however be passed on to any other third parties apart from those involved in the above processes. Candidates may at any time request access to their personal data and have it corrected if necessary.