DeltaPatents Training Finns for EQE-Certificate

(IPRinfo 1/2008)

Minna Suihkonen
Translation: Anthony Shaw

To qualify as a European Patent Expert demands self-discipline and dedicated study. Candidates on DeltaPatents’s course are pumped full of knowledge, motivation and tactics.

Europe’s most extensive course for patent experts has attracted a number of Finnish officers for training. The IPR University Center and the Finnish Patents Officers Association invited the Dutch company DeltaPatents to run the certification course in Helsinki. 15 officers took part in the training.

Successful candidates of the European Training Examination (EQE) can work as advisors with European patent applicants in their dealings with the European Patents Office(EPO). DeltaPatents courses have proven very effective in European comparisons.

‘There is a lot of training in patents matters on offer in Europe, but our course aims to get the trainees through the EQE’ says Cees Mulder, a European patent attorney and the trainer on the course.

The course targeted parts C & D of the four part EQE-Certificate. Part C requires drafting of a EPO application and part D tests candidates’ legal knowledge and their ability to advise in learning the law. Part D is the most demanding section.

Hundreds of hours of work
The Helsinki course was arranged in three sessions. Between each week of intensive training were two months of study and homework. ‘It may sound ridiculous giving adults homework, but that’s the way we work’ laughs Mulder.

During the intensive weeks the candidates repeatedly practise papers C & D. The participants receive extensive feedback on their answers and are given copious material for further study.

Simple reliance on knowledge is not adequate; candidates need to master tactics. ‘The setters of these tests are very experienced in concealing the crucial issues, so we train the candidates both to find the information and to transform it into an answer.’

‘On average 35% of the candidates pass the exam, but the majority are rejected. Success requires a minimum of 500 hours of study,’ Mulder estimates. ‘It normally demands sacrifices of family life. I suggest holing up to a summer cottage, or banishing other family members there.’

Finns should get bold
‘Papers A & B also require training, but they are easier than C & D,’ Mulder thinks. ‘Getting advice from other candidates already successful at the EQE is very helpful. The answers have to be couched in a certain way, and the candidates must be instructed in how it’s done.’

In Mulder’s opinion, training Finnish patent officers is challenging. They must learn to be active and ask questions, otherwise they tend to sit quietly and the trainers don’t know if the teaching has got through.

‘Is silence a national characteristic, or are they afraid to raise their profile in public?’ asks Mulder.

One participant, Jonna Sahlin from patent office Borenius & Co, was very satisfied with the course: ‘Compared with other courses I have attended, this programme focused strictly on passing the test. And that’s the point!’

Sahlin has passed parts A & B and plans to pass the rest in March. She has been able to use some work time in preparation for the test. ‘It’s virtually essential’ she asserts.

She was lucky enough to find in Borenius a colleague who had passed the EQE already. ‘Nowadays we are starting to have enough knowledge here in Finland to help prepare for the test.’

What exactly is EPO and EQE?
The EPO (The European Patent Office) is the authority for granting patents in the countries signed up to the European Patent Convention. The head office is in Munich, Germany.

The EQE is the qualifying exam for European patent experts. Success in the EQE is required by those intending to join the European Patent Registry, administered by EPO. The certification is arranged once a year and can be taken in any one of four parts. The test requires a minimum of one year’s study and lasts for three days.