EQE Candidate Support Project (CSP) – Frequently Asked Questions – National Offices

epoWhat is the EQE Candidate Support Project (CSP)
This is a European Patent Office (EPO) “Co-operation Roadmap” project to
support potential European Qualifying Examination (EQE) candidates from those
member states which having five or fewer EQE-qualified Professional
Representatives (PRs).
These 23 member states are: Albania (AL), Bulgaria (BG), Croatia (HR), Cyprus
(CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Estonia (EE), FYR of Macedonia (MK), Greece (GR),
Hungary (HU), Iceland (IS), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Malta (MT), Monaco (MC),
Norway (NO), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), San Marino (SM),
Serbia (RS), Slovak Republic (SK), Slovenia (SI), and Turkey (TR).
The project will include the development and implementation of a specific training
programme for these potential EQE candidates. This will have the aim of increasing the
proportion of the candidates who attain an adequate level of knowledge such that they
pass the EQE.

Why do we need this project?
In order to ensure a sufficient infrastructure of Professional Representatives throughout
Europe in the long term, measures need to be taken to establish an appropriate system of
EQE-qualified PRs in all member states.

What is the distribution of Professional Representatives within EPC member states?
At present there is a geographical disparity of Professional Representatives (PRs) in the
member states which introduces an imbalance in the Europe-wide provision of
professional patent attorney services. In the European Patent Convention (EPC) member
states the number of representatives having passed the EQE varies greatly. It is common
that in those member states which have joined in the past decade, most or all of the
European patent attorneys received their recognition on the basis of the so-called
“grandfather” clause (Art. 134(3) EPC).

What are Grandfathers?
Art. 134 EPC states:
[Representation of natural or legal persons in proceedings established by this Convention
may only be undertaken by professional representatives whose names appear on a list
maintained for this purpose by the European Patent Office. ]
(3) During a period of one year from the date on which the accession of a State to this
Convention takes effect, entry on that list may also be requested by any natural
person who
(a) is a national of a Contracting State,
(b) has his place of business or employment in the State having acceded to the
Convention and
(c) is entitled to represent natural or legal persons in patent matters before the central
industrial property office of that State. Where such entitlement is not conditional
upon the requirement of special professional qualifications, the person shall have
regularly so acted in that State for at least five years.

How were the participating member states selected?
A comparison of the statistics, of July 2012, regarding qualified Professional
Representatives showed that each of the 19 member states eligible for 75% financial
support of co-operation projects, (see CA/85/11), had fewer than five qualified PRs. These
member states are: Albania (AL), Bulgaria (BG), Croatia (HR), Cyprus (CY), Czech
Republic (CZ), Estonia (EE), FYR of Macedonia (MK), Greece (GR), Hungary (HU), Latvia
(LV), Lithuania (LT), Malta (MT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Serbia (RS),
Slovak Republic (SK), Slovenia (SI), and Turkey (TR). Furthermore, four of the member
states receiving 25% financial support (Iceland (IS), Monaco (MC), Norway (NO), and San
Marino (SM)) also had fewer than five qualified PRs each.
The statistics as of December 2012 show that, while a few candidates from these member
states have passed the EQE and become qualified in 2012, the list of eligible member
states did not change.

What are the objectives of the project?
• achieve a higher number of EQE-qualified PRs in eligible member states;
• achieve a higher pass-rate and increase the proportion of successful EQE
candidates without lowering the quality of the qualification;
• promote the role of national patent offices in developing and supporting the
national Professional Representative infrastructure;
• align the national patent attorney qualification with the EQE where possible;
• promote the European Patent Attorney profession as a whole.

How will the project objectives be achieved?
• through providing enhanced preparation and training for the EQE;
• by providing a training and scholarship programme;
• a coaching programme with regular contact between students and coaches.

How will the project be implemented?
The project will comprise the selection, training, and supervision of the selected students,
over a maximum period of three academic years.
The training will have two phases:
1. first phase will prepare the students for the pre-examination (first year);
2. second phase will prepare them for the main examination (this is expected to
cover papers A and B in the second year, papers C and D in the third year,
but the final decision will be made in May 2013, depending on the “newstyle”
Paper D).
The students will have a choice as to which discipline: Electricity/Mechanics, or Chemistry,
they wish to follow in the second phase.
For each year of the project, it is expected that a new class of 24 students will begin their
three-year participation in the project. Starting with their EQE Pre-examination training,
which usually begins in early September.

Throughout the two phases, the progress of the CSP students will be carefully monitored,
allowing individual advice and support to be given as soon as possible.

What is the duration of the project?
The project will run for the duration of the Co-operation Roadmap (2012-2015).
The EPO will inform the NPOs one year in advance of when the final intake of new
students will be.

What will be offered to students participating in the CSP?
The activities provided over the three years will comprise:
• participation by the students in a preparatory session to inform about the
organisation of the examinations, and how to prepare for them;
• classroom training and tutorials;
• distance learning (based on classical and modern media) comprising
knowledge exchange amongst the students, virtual classroom training,
assignments and homework with feedback given by EPO or epi tutors;

Furthermore, the EPO and the epi will, where possible, assist the students in finding:
• an internship at the EPO, working with an Examiner in a relevant technical
• an internship with an established patent attorney firm in another member

How will the project be managed?
The EPO will manage the project, in close co-operation with the national patent offices
(NPOs), and with the European Patent Institute (epi).
Ultimate responsibility for taking decisions, in particular regarding implementation, funding,
resources, and schedules, rests with the EPO.

What are the eligibility criteria for students?
EQE candidates permanently residing and working in one of the EPO member states are
eligible to apply to join the project. Candidates will enter the project one year prior to them
taking the Pre-examination. This means that they must have completed a full-time training
period of at least one year, and have worked full-time for one year, as defined in Article
11(7) of the REE1. This should ensure that the candidate has already committed to a long
term career as a Professional Representative.

How are the EQE candidates informed of the CSP and what it offers?
Details of the CSP and how to apply will be published in all participating member states, as
well as on the EPO and epi websites.

How does a prospective EQE candidate apply to participate in the CSP?
Prospective EQE candidates must complete a CSP Application Form, and send this
together with a motivation letter to the national patent office (NPO) in the member state in
which they reside and work. Furthermore, if possible, they should supply a letter from their
company supervisor, stating that they will support the candidate’s participation in the CSP,
and allow them to participate in the training events provided.

May EQE Candidates apply directly to the EPO?
An EQE Candidate may apply directly to the EPO, and all information provided will be
forwarded to the NPO in the respective member state.
If, for any reason, a national patent office does not wish to organise an Applicant Review
Board, individuals may apply directly to the EPO.

How are the CSP students selected?
One of the crucial elements for the success of the project is the careful selection of
prospective EQE candidates who could benefit from the project. Above all, the ability and
motivation of a potential student has to be assessed.

The member state NPOs are invited to each create a “CSP Applicant Review Board”. The
members of the board should review the applicant’s EQE expert knowledge, motivation,
and needs. The board members will ideally be from the NPO, the local epi PQC
(Professional Qualification Committee), and may include a member of the national Patent
Attorney Association / Chamber of Commerce.

The respective CSP Applicant Review Board will review the applications and produce a list
with an initial review of the applications. This list, together with all the original applications,
is then sent to the EPO. The EQE Examination Secretariat will then check whether each
applicant is eligible to take the Pre-examination. The EPO will then make the final
selection of participating students, based on the NPO recommendations, the Examination
Secretariat approval, and the criteria laid down in the Co-operation Roadmap, such as the
maximum number of participants per member state, and current number of EQE-qualified
Professional Representatives.

What support will each CSP student receive?
The EQE Candidate Support Project (CSP) provides the following support to the
participating students as preparation for their EQE Pre-examination:
• classroom training/seminars provided by qualified tutors, based on 10-days training
split over three sessions:
o • a 3-day kick-off session (in September 2013, at a location to be confirmed),
o • a 5-day CEIPI course (in November 2013, in Strasbourg),
o • a final 2-day CEIPI cramming course / mock examination (in January 2014,
in Munich).
• a selection of textbooks and other training material;
• access to the European Patent Academy’s distance learning programme
(EQE-online) comprising knowledge exchange amongst the students, virtual
classroom training, assignments and homework with feedback given by the EPO or
epi trainers;

• a personal epi Coach who will be available to answer individual questions, and help
with assignments. Each Student will be in contact with their Coach for
approximately one hour per week, from the start of the training up to the week of the
• a bursary of EUR 150,- per month for the months during which they participate in
the respective training. The bursary, is provided as a gift to the student to cover
exceptional costs incurred while studying for the EQE.
• The EPO will, where possible, pay for all training, hotels, and books in advance.
• Associated travel expenses (Economy class), visas, etc are paid directly to the
students on receipt of a Reimbursement Request, including the flight tickets.
• The EPO is prepared to pay 100% for language training in the language which the
students intends to take the EQE examination papers. Following the signing of
agreements between the EPO and the Institut français, the Goethe Institut, and the
British Council for the provision of language training in the three EPO official
languages, the students are requested to participate in language training provided
by one of these three preferred suppliers, where possible. The individual students
will be responsible for organising their required language training and for claiming
the costs back from the EPO. The students must first receive financial approval
from the EPO for a given course, prior to making any financial commitment.

What are the obligations of the CSP students?
In return, the student will enter into an agreement with the EPO, obliging him/her to follow
the training programme precisely, to perform the related tasks diligently, and to prepare in
the best possible way for the EQE.
Further elements of the agreement with the CSP students:
1. The student is encouraged to work for at least three years as a professional
representative in his home country after having passed the EQE. This is in order
to stabilise the quota of EQE-qualified PRs.
2. As a qualified professional representative, he/she will prepare and supervise at
least one other potential candidate from his home country for the EQE.
3. In case the performance of a student is not satisfactory, or a student does not
follow the programme as requested, the EPO has the right to exclude him/her
from the project.
4. The student agrees that the EPO may pass on name and contact details to the
respective NPO, the epi, and any third-party training provider. On request, the
EPO will supply the student with a list of organisation to which his details has
been forwarded.

What is the current status of the CSP?
The “pilot year” of the project, which began in October 2012, has successfully concluded,
with all 16 CSP students passing the EQE pre-examination which was held in February
this year. 21 candidates were eligible to join the pilot project and were invited to
participate. Of these, 16 applied and were accepted. Eight candidates are from Poland, six
from Turkey and 2 from Norway. Our successful candidates will now progress to the
second phase of the project, namely preparation for the EQE main examinations in 2014
and 2015. The feedback from the students themselves has been very positive. Likewise,
both CEIPI, and the Coaches provided by the epi wish to continue to support the project.

Is the training tailor-made for this project?
The CSP aims to provide the participating students with the most applicable training and
materials currently available, and integrate these into the project.
Special “Coaching Days” are organised either before or after a standard training seminar,
in order to provide an opportunity for the students to meet their Coaches face-to-face. the
Students work in groups and as a whole to discuss topics relevant to them. Three such
Coaching Days are planned per academic year.

Roles and responsibilities
The European Patent Office (EPO) is responsible for the overall coordination of the
Candidate Support Project (CSP).

National Offices of those member states which would like to participate in the project. The
national offices are requested to actively support the project by: promoting the project,
encouraging candidates to enter the profession through publicity campaigns, ensuring the
support of the professional representatives, provide training logistics or premises at which
training can take place.

The Coaches are assigned to a particular group of candidates, per year. They maintain
regular contact with the students, providing the first point of contact regarding the training
and preparation for the examinations.

The Coaches will members of the epi and are therefore EQE-qualified PRs.
The Supervisor of each candidate is a professional representative (entered on the list of
qualified representatives before the EPO).

The support of epi and especially the epi members supervising the students is essential for
the successful outcome of the project. Students will need support for training on the job,
allocated study time, and leave to enable participation in classroom training.
Considering the significant benefits expected from the programme and the enhancement
and promotion of the profession as a whole, it is expected that the epi members will feel it
within their professional responsibility to cover the cost of a major part of these

A Project Manager will be responsible for policy matters, administration, and all aspects of
implementation of the project.

Data protection
All personal data will be processed fairly and lawfully for the specific and predefined
purpose of conducting and monitoring the CSP. Relevant data may be passed on to the
other EPO departments and external CSP partners only in connection with CSP matters.
The data will not however be passed on to any other third parties. Students may at any
time request access to their personal data and have it corrected if necessary.

What is the “subvention” of the enrolment and examinations fees for the EQE
In 2012 the EPO President decided to support potential EQE candidates residing in the
member states of the EPO which currently receive the highest level of financial support
under the co-operation policy (CA/85/11).
This means that residents of the 19 member states (Albania (AL), Bulgaria (BG), Croatia
(HR), Cyprus (CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Estonia (EE), FYR of Macedonia (MK), Greece
(GR), Hungary (HU), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Malta (MT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT),
Romania (RO), Serbia (RS), Slovak Republic (SK), Slovenia (SI), Turkey (TR)) will be
eligible to pay a reduced fee of €50 (equivalent to 75% of the normal fee of €200).

This subvention applies both to the annual enrolment fee of €200, and to the individual
examination fee of €200 per examination paper.

This subvention is not dependent on participation of a given candidate in this co-operation
project, however, it is financed from the EPO’s co-operation budget.

Information concerning fee subsidies including the conditions for eligibility can be found in
the Announcement of the EQE 2014, point II, 7.3 (OJ 3/2013, p. 166).

Candidates applying for subsidies must await approval of their request before submitting
their application to sit the EQE 2014. Candidates are reminded of the strict application of
the closing dates for enrolment.

Further details can be found on the EPO website at:

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