Monday, 28 January 2019

Pilot at EQE 2019 – pilot project for writing Papers A, B, C and D on a computer

Last Friday, it was announced on the EQE website that:

"Several measures to modernise the EQE are currently being considered. In this framework it has been decided to run a pilot project allowing a small group of candidates to write the 2019 Papers A, B, C and D on a computer. Fifteen candidates sitting all four main examination papers in Munich will be randomly chosen and asked if they would like to volunteer to participate in the pilot. The pilot group can type their answers in a secure environment using a text editor program consisting of basic editing features. All other rules and conditions pursuant to the EQE will apply to the pilot.
The primary objective of the pilot is to gain experience in answering the EQE papers on a computer and to identify both the challenges and benefits. The outcome of the pilot should enable an informed choice regarding the potential to expand gradually to a wider group"

See here for the official announcement.

26 comments:

  1. The use of the computer is gives an extreme advantage over the standard paper and pen version. These 15 people which are selected will definitively have an easier examination as they simply can search through the documents with keywords and they can copy and paste everything they want to. The other candidates which have to sit the standard test neither have the opportunity to easily search for keywords with one click nor will have the experience of being able to correct whole passages by copying/pasting everything they like. I cannot understand as to how the EPO would give 15 selected participants this completely unfair option. If they just wanted to test their systems they could have simply test it independent from the real examination. Is there something one can do (petition) to stop this non-sense? I would bet that the 15 people sitting on a computer will 100% have a higher success rate than the other (poor) normal candidates.

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    1. The notice does not indicate they can search. It only says they can type the answer.
      "The pilot group can type their answers in a secure environment using a text editor program consisting of basic editing features. All other rules and conditions pursuant to the EQE will apply to the pilot."
      As all other rules apply, it must imply that no electronic documentation can be used, but only paper stuff. It also implies that the computer has no clock.

      J.

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  2. This does seem to offer a huge advantage to those 15 candidates - the ability to restructure your answer whilst writing is a huge advantage - not to mention little things like no possible ambiguity in handwriting, the potential for searching documents for keywords (extremely valuable in paper c!).
    I'll be interested to compare the average mark of this small group with the average mark of hand-writers.

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  3. Dear Anonymous and Hand-writer,
    I donot agree with you. For me, it would be a disaster if I would need to answer with a computer. I type with 2 fingers, not with 10, and am a slow typer. Also, if I can type but not print, I donot have any overview. When I answer any of the EQE papers, I have many sheets of paper on my table with many parts of the answers and analysis.
    I do agree that it may be a great advantage for some.
    The notice indicates it is a pilot. So, if the final result is that anyone can choose, I think it is a good initiaive.
    By the way, even thiigh I would not atl all benefit from answering on computer, I wcan benefit from using electronic tools to search in all material, as I also do in real life.
    Does anyone know whether the pilot includes using the computer just for this purpose?

    J.

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  4. Who said the papers will be electronically available?
    I can't imagine you will be able to search the papers with google!
    And what about desk space? The laptop and mouse will leave you searching the floor for Annex 4 !
    I bet at least 1 PC will freeze during paper C (ha, ha ,ha, ha!!)

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  5. First poster Anonymous actually is right, sadly. I have internal information that says the editor which will be used has every feature as described above and the papers will be available in a pdf in the so called "PDF viewer". Everyone will be able to copy and paste everything - see the following quotation: "The buttons for Cut, Copy and Paste can be used to move or copy text within the editor or to insert text from the examination paper in the PDF viewer".

    It's a real shame. I understand that some people cannot write as fast as others with a keyboard, but for the majority the combination of features (searchability of the examination papers, copy-pasting, restructuring, readability as addressed) this is a true advantage. If I had to write the papers in this year with this unmatched competition I'd organize a petition against this favouritism.

    P.S.: the computer has a clock - this is also shown in the internal paper.

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    1. Thanks for the internal information!

      And for writing that is is unmatched competition.

      J.

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    2. what internal paper do you refer to?

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    3. papers available in a PDF viewer?? How are you supposed to read up to 7 Annexes on a computer screen? how many screens are provided? This sounds surreal!

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  6. In attempting to keep the EQE "modern" the committee should not restrict itself to exploring the use of electronic equipment.
    The whole concept of the EQE as being a "very difficult exam to pass" should be looked at. The "difficulties" of passing the exam should not encompass physical problems like time pressure-induced stress, tiredness, hand cramp, restricted table space for the number of documents, etc. These problems do not reflect reality!
    The exam format itself should be scrutinised. It should be possible to restrict each paper to 3 hours. It makes little sense to ask a candidate to prepare an opposition in 5.5 hours which in reality takes months! Multiple choice for D1 could be used, for example, to shorten the time needed for paper D. Candidates answering in non-EPO official languages could be give extra time.

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    1. Are you kidding? Multiple choice for DI? The experiences from 7 years Pre-Exam do not leave any doubt: multiple choice is not a suitable way to test patent law or to test claim drafting and claim analysis.

      Are your clients really willing to pay for months of work to prepare an opposition? They must be really rich! One full-time week is already unafforable for all of my clients!
      Further you get all the prior art in paper C from the committee and you know you can succesfully correct all the claims: writing an opposition based on that must be possible within 4-6 hours!

      I agree with your comments on the physical problems like tiredness, hand cramp, restricted table space for the number of documents, etc. These problems do not reflect reality! But stress and time-pressure is a real-life fact, and an intrinsic charateristic of any exam.

      J.

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    2. 7 years of pre exams shows that multiple choice WORKS for the legal questions. It is only the claims analysis part that was perhaps not so appropriate.

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    3. Dear T J Hooker, whether it works or not for the legal questions of the Pre-Exam is not relevant for DI. DI is about showing that you can ARGUE, not that you can magically come up with a correct final answer. Replacing DI by a multiple-choice A/B/C/D or True/False format degrades the DI to a Pre-Exam question. It would be a truly bad idea to do multiple-choice for DI.

      Maybe multiple-choice for paper C is possible: A) not novel with respect to A2; B) not novel with respect to A4; C) not inventive with respect to A2 as closest prior art + A4 as second teaching; D) novel and inventive; E) violates Art.123(2)?

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  7. I would like to start a petition against the favorable decision to give the benefit to the 15 people from Munich! It is a discrimination in many dimensions - Why only in Munich? Why 15 people? Why not as previously mentioned having a group of attorneys/specialist chosen for this test? Shall I add more - are they going to choose only white people or are they intending to add some diversity to not to discriminate further? How objective is the person choosing the 'lucky ones'? How is a computer not an electronic device which we-the unlucky cannot have? How much more discriminative could it get?

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  8. It is surely very easy to moan about such change without thinking upsides and downsides of writing with a keyboard. I really see the step of EPO towards more modern era with respect to EQE papers as encouraging.

    Exam conditions always have the tendency of discrimination. Some of candidates are taking the exams in their place of residence, while some of them have to fly from their small towns with a few connections, which is very tiring.

    If I was chosen and offered for writing the papers on computer, I would think twice. I have made all my preparations with the conditioning that I am going to write. My exam-style-thinking works in a way which writes fluently while thinking according to the expectations of the exam. I also find very distracting to switch my focus form paper to computer screen for writing, and then back from screen to the paper to dig through my notes and papers. I also write faster than I type.

    Yes, copying and pasting, and searching seem having its advantages as well for sure, but I would not be as enthusiastic as some of you obviously to accept that. Both methods have some advantages and disadvantages at this stage.

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  9. Can I bring my own keyboard if I am one of the 15?

    I use a US-layout Logitech QWERTY keyboard. But in Germany, even though also QWERTY, the layout of the special symbols such as , / ; : ( ) & * ! are at different keys. A German keyboard is very difficult to use. In France, AZERTY is even more different.

    Can I also bring my own mouse, as I am left-handed and use an asymmetrical mouse for left-handed people?

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    1. haha why not? if it is in one of the three official languages :) I see the next OJ coming.

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  10. If this was offered to me, in these super-important exams that my employer has paid lots of money for me to train for and sit, there's no way I would choose to be a guinea pig for a new system that I had not practiced in any way during my revision...

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  11. Wow, very interesting news!! I wonder whether most people offered this option would accept. personally, I am actually unsure. On the one hand, it would be great to avoid all the writing and hand cramping, but on the other hand it is an experiment and who knows what could go wrong... Tricky but exciting =).
    One more interesting point: would these candidates be in a separate room? Noise/temperature might also be important points to consider.

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  12. Accidentally it will pop up that selected Group of 15 candidates are only Germans from Munich ��

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    1. No, not correct. I know someone that is not from Munich and not a German and that will be one of the 15.

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  13. This would be great if extended in yeatrs and numbers, writing legibly is hard for me, so I would really prefer an electronic way of doing it, like at the dutch exams.

    PS

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  14. Many people over the years have been asking for this because many new candidates are just not used to writing so much by hand. From what I understand, they got the papers on paper and electronically. They were in a separate room, and used a simple text editor. They had no internet access, or electronic access to reference materials. The pilot is to see whether there are any issues - there may be a slight advantage in electronic searching under certain circumstances, but there are also advantages to working on paper - you can separate the annexes, and look at several pages at once. The guinea-pigs all took a risk doing this as well, even though the conditions have been made as similar as possible.
    Some people above mentioned a clock - I am not sure how that is an advantage as all candidates are allowed to bring your own wrist watch.
    The passing rate of these 15 candidates does not affect the passing rate of everybody else, so if you did the papers by hand, you have not been disadvantaged.

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    1. Yes.
      Facilities: 27" screen + keyboard choice of language + two desks of 120x80 cm each: one for computer, other for working on paper copies. No printing possibility.
      Opposition form in simple text editor and on paper.
      Got manual for text editor in advance, but not the editor.
      Another window for the Annexes.
      Possibility to annotate Annexes with color annotations.
      Search facility in Annexes.
      Could copy text from Annexes into answer.
      Option to alternatively hand-in written answer, or part hand-written and part computer.

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    2. I made the exam in Munich on a PC.
      The information given above is partially incorrect:
      - there is no possibility to highlight text,
      - you can copy/paste from the PDF to the text editor only one line at the time, otherwise it doesn’t work properly, everything gets irreparably messy if you paste more;
      - the paper on the PDF viewer is a single document that you need to scroll up and down.

      I studied and highlighted the paper on the actual paper version, because that is how I trained before the exam. Therefore, the search function was not so useful since I had already recorded the keywords I needed on paper.

      It might seem a great advantage to write the exam on a computer, however I had to face the exam without the possibility of training in the real exam conditions. I see this as a disadvantage that compensates at least for the real benefit of writing on a PC. Moreover, I had to switch continuously form the desk where I was studying the paper to the desk with the PC for writing down stuff. In conclusion, I don’t regret trying this new exam format as a guinea pig (coming from abroad to Germany to try it) since the final outcome is that you don’t really get any benefits or disadvantages if compared to the other candidates. You simply get a different experience of the exam. I don’t believe that it was a privileged condition.

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  15. New pilot at EQE2020

    http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponot.nsf/0/964EE97F3FCB4194C1258466002EA298/$File/CB_EQE%202020_Publication.pdf

    Different facilities: computer is a laptop or notebook with a built-in high-resolution 14” screen.
    No additional screen will be provided (candidates are not allowed to bring their own screen).
    The laptop computer provides battery backup in case of a power failure.
    The computer will be equipped with an external disk drive or USB stick on which answers are saved automatically. Removing the disk or stick will stop the system. Re-connecting is time consuming and should therefore be avoided.

    http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponot.nsf/0/09250B9AA7E5498BC1258466002BA192/$FILE/CB-EQE-Technical_User_Manual.pdf

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