Friday, 29 November 2019

EQE 2021 (pre-exam and main exam) announced in OJ EPO

OJ 2019, A98 comprises the Announcement of the European qualifying examination 2021 – Pre‑examination and main examination.

The Annoucement includes a lot of detail. Please refer to the original Notice for all detail. This blog post only serves to inform you on the existence of the annoucements.

A few main items from the Annoucement:

1. Compulsory registration
Candidates must register once they have commenced their professional training (Article 11(2) REE).
Enrolment to the pre-examination 2021 will only be possible for candidates who have registered by 15 January 2020 at the latest (see Notice of 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 1 March 2021.
Registered candidates may enrol from 3 February until 11 May 2020. After 11 May 2020, it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the pre-examination 2021.
2.2 Date of the main examination and enrolment deadline
The main examination will be held from 2 to 4 March 2021.
Candidates may enrol from 1 April until 17 August 2020. After 17 August 2020, it will not be possible to apply for enrolment for the main examination 2021.
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.
For more details, for example on payment of fees, withdrawal, enrolment process, required period of professional activity (patent attorney trainees; EPO examiners), choice of papers, fees and fee subsidies, examination centers, etc , refer to OJ 2019, A98 and to the EQE website.


  1. Hello, Italian authority have forbidden any gathering and even sitting of exams in view of the outbreak of the Corona-Virus. I am not sure that it will possible an EQE exam this year in Italy. Is the EPO taking into account this situation and proposing some solutions (alternative date, having the student sitting the exam in a different place ...)?


    1. Dear G,
      That is a question that we cannot answer.
      I suggest you ask the EQE Secretariat.

  2. Thank you Roel, I will ask them the question

    Just as preliminary analysis, it seems that it will not possible to post-pone the Examination in view of Article 20 of Regulation on the European qualifying examination for professional representatives:

    "Where the examination is to be held in
    several centres at different locations,
    the same papers shall be distributed
    and sat in all centres simultaneously".


    1. Hi Giovanni. Did you get a response from the EQE Secretariat?

  3. Hi, I'm Emanuele from Italy and I have to sit paper D in Rome.
    I wrote to helpdesk, but no one answer till today.
    Good luck to everyone!!

    1. :

      Update on Coronavirus
      Information for external partners and potential visitors to the EPO

      1 March 2020

      The European Patent Office is closely monitoring the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) worldwide.

      In response to the latest developments and in line with recommendations issued by international health authorities, the Office has adopted the following precautionary measures for all of its sites:

      - External partners are kindly requested to abstain from visiting the EPO if they have recently visited China, the "red area" of Italy (Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d'Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini and Vò) and South Korea.

      - Meetings of up to 50 (external) participants will go ahead as planned (under the precautions stated above). For other meetings, decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis and participants will be notified of any cancellation in due time prior to the event.

      - All duty travel to China, the "red area" of Italy (Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d'Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini and Vò) and South Korea has been cancelled until further notice.

      - Please note that, in view of the current situation, the EPO is not obliging staff to undertake duty travel to any destination. As a result, some external meetings may be postponed or conducted via videoconferencing.

      The EPO will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate measures as the situation evolves.

  4. I saw it this morning, but nothing relevant for EQE situation.
    Thanks, by the way :-)

  5. I think that if the EPO is taking into account this situation, the EQE secretariat will react accordingly. EPO is not obliging staff to travel so the Examiners can refuse to go to Rome to attend EQE.

    PS: Note that the according to the last Italian government decisions, sitting of an exam outside the red zone is not forbidden anymore (see

    Then, the decision to have examination lies on Secretariat. For the moment EQE examination is confirmed.


  6. Dear Giovanni,

    Thank You for the Update!

  7. I don't think that the EPO will take the risk of maintaining the EQE exam. Otherwise, it can be legally responsible...There are many external candidates. They will travel, go restaurants, hotels...before sitting in exam rooms and

    1. I do not think they are liable:
      Article 3(1) of Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Patent Organisation: "Within the scope of its official activities the Organisation shall have immunity from jurisdiction and execution".

  8. BERLIN, MARCH 4 - The coronavirus emergency has become "a global pandemic": German Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Bundestag. The WHO in recent days has continued to speak of an epidemic and not a pandemic, claiming that the virus can still be contained. Germany is the first country to define Covid-19 as a pandemic phenomenon.

    ...and now what?


    Update on Coronavirus

    Information for external partners and potential visitors to the EPO

    4 March 2020

    In view of the present situation with the Coronavirus (COVID) the European Patent Office (EPO) is adopting the following measures as a precaution:

    We are postponing all EPO organised events that involve more than 50 participants in March and April. Organisers will contact participants on an individual basis and, where possible, inform them of the new dates.
    We are requesting external partners to abstain from visiting the EPO if they have recently visited China, the "red area" of Italy (Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d'Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini and Vò) and South Korea.
    We are cancelling all duty travel scheduled for March and April as of 5 March 2020. This includes any travel between EPO sites (except for movements between our local offices in Munich). All staff who are currently on duty travel are recommended to return to their usual place of work as soon as reasonably possible.

    We understand these may cause some business disruption and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are continuously monitoring the situation and will provide updates as necessary.

    1. Does this include the EQEs? Rather confusing language.

  10. A pity - this basically cancels or postpones the EQE. EPO-employees can no longer travel to supervise. The exam is held at the EPO in Berlin & The Hague, with more than 50 people. In the past, they made sure that the conditions are equal everywhere, so they cannot let it go ahead in some places and not in others. It may be postponed to May, but that is also not certain. Good luck getting refunds from hotels and airlines - you might be able to rebook if the new dates are known. And most insurances will not cover this as a reason for cancellation.

  11. Anyway, the update communication is new but "lacks of clarity"...:-))

  12. It is different to the earlier one - there is no room for discretion. All events are cancelled.

  13. Is EQE 'an event'?
    Are there EPO employees at the Examination Centers during examinations?

  14. The EQE does not have to be an event with more than 50 people, it would easily be possible to divide the larger groups, use more rooms and increase the distance between the tables.
    Also, candidates are not supposed to interact during the exams so it's very different from other events.

    Anyway, postponing would be really aweful for those who studied really hard for the last few weeks, in particular those who studied for the D exam.
    If they cancel, they have to cancel or postpone everywhere, even in places where there is currently no problem with corona-virus. This seems like a very bad idea.

    - Flora

    1. I agree, until the EQE secretariat says otherwise I won't be ceasing my studies. Don't jump the gun on this one...

  15. The reason the exam runs smoothly is that the EQE secretariat has people everywhere. They move their office to the MOC each year, and they have people at the other sites, working with local people. They are no longer allowed to travel, so MOC cannot be used. Also, they can not allow more than 50 people to enter the EPO building in The Hague or Berlin.
    It could all be solved, but not within two weeks.
    I agree it is horrible and it does not really solve anything - we will be back again discussing this in May or June. Sorry to all those who are ready - this is the worst case scenario.

    1. Do you have insider information or are you just making assumptions on your own and spreading rumours?

    2. I think he or she is right. All duty travel is cancelled for EPO employees in March and April, so there can nobody be there from EPO to supervise.

    3. No insider information - this is following the same pattern that INTA went through before cancelling. Unfortunately, everyone is panicking and demanding action, but the only action they accept is cancellation.
      I also know something about how the EQE is organised logistically - splitting candidates up into groups of fifty might be possible, but they will need extra supervisors. Many of these are EPO employees.
      With INTA, many law firms & companies threatened to boycott or not allow their people to attend. This is also likely to have happened with the EQE.
      I hope that it does go ahead, and I would happily attend or even supervise, but no-one seems to want to be publicly seen to be taking risks.

    4. Yes, but INTA is very different. It's a conference where people are supposed to interact, it's very international with people from all over the world attending. In comparisson the EQE is a local event. People travel to the test sites but generally within their own home country and the test has people at their own desks without talking to each other.
      I can see that the supervision might be a problem, we'll see how they deal with it.
      Let's hope that if they reschedule, it will be soon enough, so that we can all get results in time to register for next year's exam.
      Just cancelling is really not an option, people are going to want their money back and many of the candidates professional life depends on being able to take the test.

    5. > EQE is a local event

      Define local. Some countries are big. The situation is quite different between for example North Italy and South Italy.

      > People travel to the test sites but generally within their own home country

      In Munich many candidates sit from all over Europe.

      Hope they are wise and postpone to late June or early September! And that the virus is under control well before so that there will be no uncertainty!

  16. Replies
    1. It's a convention center in north Munich which is the site of the EQE this year.

    2. I think the Update on Corona means EQE has to be postponed or cancelled.

      Postponing Pre-Exam to end June looks like an option to me: can be marked quicly, so preparation for main exam 2021 does not need tobe adversely affected.

      Postponing main exam to end June or later causes results to be available no earlier than October/November due to summer holidays: maybe too late to prepare well for resitting?

      If Pre-Exam cannot be postponed and has to be cancelled, that would give a long delay. Maybe the Supervisory Board or Examination Board can in that case decide to grant anyone that enrolled to the Pre-Exam 2020 exemption and allow to sit main exam 2021?


  17. Waiting for a decision from the Supervisory Board... cancellation or postponement?

    And I like the suggestion by G above (if Pre cancelled, then allow all candidates that to sit main next year).

    Need to know soon!

  18. An only option is to use local authorities as invigilators (is this possible?) and arrange more facilities in some countries (with candidates more than 50) to bypass the limitation of 50?


  19. According minimum pass grade to every paper for every candidate?

  20. Dear candidate,

    In response to the latest developments about the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), the Supervisory Board of the European qualifying examination has decided in line with the EPO’s precautionary measures to cancel the EQE planned to take place 16-19 March 2020.

    The Supervisory Board is currently assessing the feasibility of organising the examination at a later stage during the current year. We would kindly ask for your understanding that due to the complex logistic arrangements related to the organisation of the EQE, this assessment will require some time. The Examination Secretariat will revert back to you as soon as there is a decision taken by the Supervisory Board. Also, please understand that due to the high number of enquiries received, answering individual questions will take more time than usual.

    We sincerely regret this highly unsatisfactory situation for all concerned. Further information will follow in due course, in particular related to the reimbursement of the fees.

    Best regards

    The Examination Secretariat

    1. Thx.

      Please post any further comments to the blog post at

  21. Nothing official on their hoempage yet! Could it be a virus!