Report of the Professional Education Committee

P. Rambelli (IT), Chair

According to the Survey on Training Needs for European Patent Attorneys, which was carried out by the EP Academy, in March 2017, with the epi support, the most preferred format for education events is a one-day seminar on specific topics.

Out of about 1500 European Patent Attorneys, who answered the Survey, about 800 selected the seminars as their preferred choice; interactive workshops, such as Examination Matters, organised by the EPO with the epi support, and live webinars (virtual classroom) were respectively the second and third choice.

The organisation of seminars falls under the competence of the Continued Professional Education Sub-Committee of PEC. In 2017, the epi was able to offer 12 seminars in 3 specific areas, namely:

  • Opposition and Appeal (2 events): epi roadshow supported by the EPO,
  • Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (8 events): epi roadshow partially with the EPO support, and
  • Life of a Patent (2 events): epi roadshow supported by the EPO.

Overall the above-mentioned seminars were attended by about 725 participants including 612 epi members and 52 epi Students.

Moreover, in the fourth quarter of 2017, a new roadshow on Guidelines 2Day, organised by the EPO with the epi support was successfully started in Munich; the roadshow includes in 2017 4 additional seminars in major European cities.

Whereas the organisation of seminars is indeed the core of the epi educational activity, in 2017 PEC also focused its efforts on the design of a training programme for EQE candidates, registered as epi Students. This student programme falls under the competence of the EQE candidates and epi Students Sub-Committee and of the epi Tutors Sub-Committee of PEC, who actively cooperated together in the project.

Training programme for epi Student members

A draft training programme was defined at the epi Tutors'meeting which was held on 7 September 2017 and attended by 34 epi experts (tutors, coaches and speakers) and by members of the PEC Subcommittees "epi experts" and "EQE candidates".

The epi experts were called to act as an advisory board for the PEC in the development of an action plan for the implementation of a 3-year training programme for EQE candidates. The main aim of the 3-year training programme is to provide training in aspects not provided for by other service providers, to be made available as a benefit reserved to epi student members, thereby to make more attractive and foster the registration of EQE trainees, entering in the profession, as epi students.

Details on the envisaged training programme are provided by Mrs. Margaret Mackett's report on the epi Tutor's meeting in this epi Information.

PEC is pleased to report that the basic concept of the training programme was approved by Council at the Council Meeting in Warsaw, although some adjustment may be needed in order to comply with financial and budget requirements.

Annual Meeting of EQE Tutors and Members of the Examination Committees

This traditional meeting, organised by the EP Academy with the epi cooperation, under the MoU, was held in Munich on 8 September 2017 and preceded by a networking event (dinner) on 7 September, hosted by the epi.

The meeting was organised according to the usual format including sessions for each EQE and pre-examination papers; for the first time a single session was held for A/B papers that, in 2017, for the first time, were drafted in a single technical field. The programme of the meeting included a presentation by Ms. Katerina Hartvichova and Ms. Margaret Mackett (PEC Sub-Committee Chairs) on the concept of "Mentoring EQE candidates", which aims at providing support and guidance for EQE candidates/ epi Students in case where an EPA supervisor is not available to the candidate or in case the supervisor is unable or unwilling to provide such a support.

The possibility to implement the mentoring programme, initially for epi Students in need thereof, is under consideration by PEC; further developments could aim at the recognition of the mentoring programme as a means to fulfil the training requirements under Art. 11(2)(a)(i) REE.

EPO/epi work plan for 2018

The EPO/epi work plan for 2018, which is envisaged within the frame of Memorandum of Understanding with the EPO, was finalised at the Meeting of the MoU Paritary Committee, held on 4 October 2017.

The finalised programme shall include the following events:

  • Opposition and Appeal: two seminars are envisaged in Budapest (24 April 2018) and Madrid (Q4, 2018); it is envisaged to implement a new series in 2019 when the new Rules of Procedure of the BoA will be implemented;
  • EQE Tutors: Munich, September or October 2018;
  • Examination Matters: Munich, 4 and 5 July 2018; the definition of topics for the workshops and speakers is under way; the epi will contribute two speakers;
  • Webinars "Life of a patent": a distance-learning course on basic aspects of the EPC;
  • Seminars "Life of a patent": two 2-days seminars in Athens and Ljubljana/Zagreb;
  • Guidelines2DAY: the GL2DAY, which started on 5 October 2017, will be continued in Q1 and Q2 2018 in six locations; a new series in Q4/2018 is envisaged in four further cities;
  • UP/UPC: the UP/UPC series in cooperation with the EPO is a presently stayed due to uncertainty on implementation of the new system; at least one seminar will be held in Bologna in Q2/2018; the parties have agreed to review the need for further seminars in 2018 depending upon developments in the implementation of the system;
  • Case Law seminars: on proposal by PEC, the Academy has agreed to cooperate in the development of a new seminar series on "Case Law"; the programme, proposed by PEC, and approved by the Academy, shall include:
    • disclaimers,
    • clarity,
    • problem/solution approach;
    • Mock Oral Proceedings and
    • Case Law update.