epi's educational activities during 2021

B. van Wezenbeek (NL), Chair of the Editorial Subcommittee of PEC

J. Gwilt, Co-Author (UK) Chair PEC

2021 was a year that was characterized by the continuous presence of Covid-19 regulations. This meant that epi, and especially its professional education committee (PEC), had to improvise and adapt to the circumstances. Despite the restrictions, many activities have taken place in order to fulfill the goal of the committee: to provide professional education for epi members and to train students to become an epi member (i.e. to pass the EQE).

The professional education program started with a series of webinars in January and February entitled "collaboration with overseas patent colleagues". The webinars covered the United States (presented by Tamara Elmore), India (presented by Durgesh Mukharya), South America (presented by Leonor Galvão) and China (presented by Louise Aagaard). The number of attendees ranged from 350 to 650, with the webinars on China and the USA attracting the most attendees. The series was thus considered a great success and in July was extended to include a presentation on South-Korea by Mr. Duck Soon Chang and Mr. Jong-Dug Choi. Extending this series to cover other countries, including the EPO validation states or extension states is being considered for 2022.

In March, Tony Tangena held a series of three webinars on the topic of commercialization and valuation of IP. A further webinar on licensing was given by him in June. Attendance at these webinars was also high (around 350 to 400). Further webinars were delivered in July and November by Timothy Powell on privilege and conflicts of interest and there was a webinar on AI in September by Bastian Best. In advance of the epi Council meetings in May and November, so-called pre-webinars were held. In May David Molnia and Marcus Müller presented on the new RPBoA and in November Edward Oates and Peter Thomsen presented on SPCs.

It was intended to finish the year with an in-person seminar on the new Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal in Paris, but the changing restrictions led to the event becoming a hybrid event. There were 20 in-person attendees, and a further 156 people listening on-line. The presentation was also hybrid: Cees Mulder was physically present in Paris, whilst Marcus Müller was presenting online. The late switch to a hybrid event showed the versatility of both presenters and organizers.

Finally, our popular series 'Life of a patent', now presented by Kaisa Suominen and Rut Herbjørnsen, was held as a distance learning course in which 100 people showed interest.

It was also a busy year with respect to helping candidates with their preparation for the first online EQE in 2021. A group of enthusiastic tutors from PEC prepared a mock exam that was sat by many candidates in January. As a follow up, a total of about 40 Q&A sessions were held in February so that the trainees could ask the tutors to explain how to approach the mock papers.

For candidates preparing for the 2022 EQE, online workshops were held in the last three months of 2021. The paper A workshop was led by Derek Jackson and Jelle Terpsma, paper B by Luis Ferreira and Andrea Pavan, paper C by Margaret Mackett and Konstantinos Vavekis and paper D by Vera Gonçalves and Claude Quintelier. Attendance ranged from 14 to 45 participants.

In addition to these workshops, the PEC also provided about 25 one-to-one tutorials. In each tutorial, candidates prepare an answer to one of the previous exams, the answer is then marked by an epi tutor and discussed with the candidates.

In collaboration with the EPO Academy, the yearly tutors' meeting was held in October. The exam committees presented the exam papers of 2021 so that the tutors could discuss with the exam committees all aspects of the 2021 EQE.

Accordingly, 2021 has been a busy year for the PEC and we want to thank everyone who has contributed to the program detailed above. Together, we have already started to plan an eventful 2022, and we hope to include more in-person events. One of the main issues for 2022 is the potential start of the UP/UPC package and we are in full swing preparing educational activities at different levels on this topic. We are also already looking further ahead to 2023 and beyond, to develop an educational program that is fit to serve the needs of the epi members.

M. Mackett (UK) Chair epi students and EQE candidates Subcommittee of PEC

  • Mock December 2021: We updated and finalised the exam papers in all three official languages together with proposed solutions. The EPO hosted the papers in December on the Wiseflow system so that EQE candidates could experience exams on the system as they would in March 2022. Candidates who wished to have individual feedback signed up for feedback sessions given by epi Tutors and hosted by the epi Secretariat. We extend our thanks to the tutors who participated in the feedback sessions.
  • Online training courses: Our online training courses for Papers A, B, C and D were held from October to January with Paper C finishing on 17 January 2022. While we originally envisaged 15 participants for each of the training courses, we were oversubscribed. For those courses where we could, we added additional courses which ran in parallel. We hope to run these courses again later in the year.