Sunday, 7 March 2021

Paper B e-EQE 2021: The jury is still out

This year’s paper B was very difficult. The client's wishes and proposed amendments could scarcely be reconciled with the disclosure of the application as filed. Even among DP's experienced attorneys and tutors, this year’s paper led to dramatically different solutions.

Although it was promised that "Paper B will have the same syllabus and character as before", Paper B looked different in design from previous years. This year’s candidates were confronted, for the first time, with third-party observations, a computer-implemented invention (or not?), and client's claims with unusual (and incomplete) tracking of changes. In particular, the accumulation of these issues appears to have placed a very high burden on the candidates.

So far, we have been able to draw up several "solutions", each of which has its strengths and shortcomings - both in the light of meeting the wishes of the client, as well as good defensibility against the requirements of Art. 123(2), and with a clear narrative for the problem-solution approach.

For that reason, we will present below, for the first time, several proposals for amended claims, and our considerations thereof. 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Paper B e-EQE 2021: first impressions?

To all who sat the B-paper today:

What are your first impressions to this year's B-paper?
Any general or specific comments?
Surprising elements in the client's letter and the prior art?

What was the effect of doing it online? Of typing your answer rather than writing it by hand? Could you benefit from being able to copy from the exam paper into your answer? And from copying parts of your answer elsewhere into your answer?
How did you experience taking the exam from your home or office location rather than in an examination center?
(How) was it different due to the due of the LockDown Browser?
What was the effect of the situation that you had to take the exam largely from the screen (as only part of the paper could be printed) rather than from paper?
Did you experience any technical difficulties during the exam? How & how fast were they solved?

Did you have enough time?
How many marks do you expect to have scored?
What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?

How did this year's paper compare to the 2017, 2018 and 2019 papers?
Similar difficulty level?
Could you understand the examiner's objections? And the client's wishes based on his letter and his proposed amendments? Was the Art.123(2) argumentation difficult, if any? Clarity? Novelty? Closest prior art selection, distinguishing feature, effect, objective technical problem, and the rest of the inventive step argumentation?

Was the subject-matter well understandable, for chemists as well as e/m candidates?
Multiple independent claims? Functional features?


UPDATED! The paper and our answers

[Update 7 March 2021:] The core of our answers is provided here.


We look forward to your comments!

Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 04-03-2021 20:21"), whereas using your real name or a nickname is more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to this blog.
Please post responses to our answer (as soon as available) to the separate blog post with our answer.
Thanks!

Paper B 2021 blog will open after the end of the exam, 4 March 2021 13:00

 Good luck with paper B!

Our EQE blogs will be open for your comments and opinions w.r.t. the Pre-ExamABand shortly after the exams. We will post our (provisional) answers to the various papers shortly after the exam. To facilitate the discussions, we will also post copies of the papers as soon as possible after we received reasonably clean copies.

Do not post any comments as to the merits of the answers of a certain exam paper/flow on the blogs while an exam/flow is still ongoing. Also, do not post the invigilator password or anything else that may be considered the breach of the exam regulations, instructions to the candidates, code of conducts, etc (see, e.g.,  e-EQE website and the emails from the EQE secretariat).

All candidates, as well as tutors who helped candidates prepare for EQE 2021, are invited to contribute to the discussions on our EQE blogs! You can post your comments in English, French or German. You are invited to post your comments under your real name, but it is also possible to use a nickname if you wish to hide your identify.

The DeltaPatents team

NB: you can not comment to this blog post; comments will be accepted from a new blog post as of 13:00

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Mock's 2 Paper B (4 Feb 2021)

"To allow candidates to test the system also close to the real examination conditions, a second mock (Mock 2) is planned for the week of 1 to 5 February 2021. The examination papers will take place during that week at the same week days and times as the real examination, see here." (see e-EQE webpage)

Today, 4 February 2021, Paper B of Mock 2 was organized, using the Wiseflow platform which will be used for the e-EQE 2021 in the week of 1-5 March 2021.

The Mock 2 Paper B is based on Paper B EM 2009, with some modifications w.r.t. the number of claims (reduced), the inclusion of the client's proposal for amendments, and the omission of a prior art document D3.

The model solution is made available by the EPI here.


Please share your experiences with the platform, as well as any comments to the paper. Particularly, 

  • What was your experience doing the paper online in general, e.g. typing your answer rather than writing it by hand?
  • How did you manage keeping a clear overview of the various pieces of information (client's letter, prior art, description)?
  • Could you benefit from being able to copy from the exam paper into your answer? And from copying parts of your answer elsewhere into your answer?
We allow you to post your comments anonymously, but it is recommended and appreciated if you identify yourself using your true name or a nick name - that makes communication much more pleasant and efficient than talking to "Anonymous 19 January 2021 22:23" and alike. 
Please refer to the "Problems with commenting" link on the top right of this blog page if you have problems with commenting (which may occur due to security settings, cookies, etc, esp when using Captcha with anonymous posts).

Thursday, 28 January 2021

B paper in e-EQE 2021

The EQE of 2021 will be conducted online (Annoucement). 

Important information was given in “Information on the schedule for the EQE 2021 examination papers” (link) of 2 December 2020 provides. 

The "Information" provides:

General

The EQE 2021 exam schedule is now available. Candidates are advised that this document may be subject to minor changes as testing continues.

The EQE 2021 will take place online using LockDown Browser. On examination days, candidates are advised to log on to the online examination system's internet platform at least 20 minutes before the start of the relevant paper. Information on how to register and log on to the online examination system will be communicated in due course.

 

Paper B – Thursday 4 March 2021

Paper B will have the same syllabus and character as before.  

Paper B lasts 3.5 hours.
[Note from the editor: this corresponds to the 3 hours from Rule 24(1) IPREE plus the additional 30 minutes from the Decision of the Supervisory Board of 17 November 2016]

Candidates will be allowed to print the prior-art documents and the drawing(s), but none of the following: the description and claims of the application, the EPO communication, the client's letter and the amended claims. The documents allowed for printing will be made available approximately ten minutes before the start of the examination.

Part         Content       Time             CET time
Paper B   Full paper   3.5 hours     9.30-13.00 hrs

Candidates may take unscheduled breaks. Further instructions relating to taking unscheduled breaks will be communicated at a later stage. It should be noted, however, that the exam clock will continue to run during unscheduled breaks, i.e. the examination will not be stopped.

FAQ on e-EQE, incl. Paper B aspects

The FAQ provides additional information for the e-EQE in general, as well as for paper B specifically:

Thursday, 28 February 2019

EQE Paper B 2019 - Cooking with solar radiation


EQE Paper B of 2019 concerned cooking using concentrated solar radiation. Candidates needed to evaluate carefully amendments suggested by the client, to see if they were novel/inventive and supported by the application. 

The claims as filed and as amended by the client had several problems for which the candidates had to find solutions. The comments below are not a full response to the office action, but give an indication of the problems that had to be solved. 

Claim 1 in the application as filed is not novel over D1. The client has suggested to add that the storage unit contains a salt composition, but this claim seems to be not inventive over the combination of D1 and D2. Putting the pot of D2 on the cooker of D1 seems an obvious combination, and would fall under this suggested claim. So more is needed. Fortunately, the client already remarks that it is the melting of the salt that is important. Since melting of salt does not occur in the combination of D1 and D2, this further addition seems to solve the problems. The addition is supported by section [0009]. 

New claim 1 is novel over D3 since D3 does not disclose cooking food.

The closest prior art for claim 1 is D1 since it is the only document that discloses a process for cooking with solar radiation. 

Claim 2 in the application as filed is not novel over D2 and D3. Furthermore, the Examiner objected to a lack of essential features. The client's amendments do not complete solve these problems. Adding that there is an empty space is not enough; D2 also has empty space in the form of gaps between the salt. The application adds that the empty space should be dimensioned to allow the salt to expand upon melting. This is supported by sections [010] and [013].

The other amendment in claim 2 is needed to make the claim novel over D3. However, the range is not supported by the application, since the end point 120 is not disclosed. Instead of the point 120, the point 130 is disclosed. Accordingly, a better range is to use 130-350. This will be sufficient for the goals of the client according to his letter.

One could wonder if it is allowed under A.123(2) to restrict a range on the basis of an isolated value given as an example. The guidelines do not give this particular example, but in part H-IV, 2.4 a somewhat similar example is given with two ranges instead of with a range and an isolated value. The case law book does give this particular scenario, in II-E, 1.3.2. The case law cited there, e.g., T201/83 require an additional test, namely that the  'this value was not so closely associated with the other features of the example as to determine the effect of that embodiment of the invention as a whole'. Here that is not the case. We conclude that restricting the range to 130-350 does not constitute added subject matter. 

Conceivably, one could disclaim the salt 'magnesium chloride hexahydrate' instead of adding a range to claim 2. This would be allowed under G 2/10 since it disclaims a disclosed embodiment. This seems to run counter the wishes of the client though. 

The closest prior art for new claim 2 seems to be D2. Only document D1 and D2 are related to cooking, but the latter has more features in common. 


Claim 4 and 5 were switched around by the client. This switch appears to be supported by the application as filed. The embodiment of figure 3 of the application has handles with which unit 3 can be transported, an so it is portable.


The claims for our solution for paper B 2019 are as follows: 

1. A cooking process including the steps:
providing a heat storage unit (3) containing a salt composition (6);
concentrating solar radiation (12) onto the heat storage unit (3) to heat it and to melt the salt composition; and
cooking food (8) placed on the heat storage unit (3).

2. A heat storage unit (3) for use in the process of claim 1, characterised bycomprising:
a box (4) having heat-insulating walls and an opening,
the box (4) containing a salt composition (6),
a light-absorbing plate (5) fitted in the opening and in thermal contact with the salt
composition (6), and
a cooking surface (9) in thermal contact with the salt composition (6),
characterized
in that:
the box (4) contains an empty space (7) dimensioned to allow the salt composition to expand upon melting, and in that
the salt composition (6) has a melting temperature from 130C to 350C
.

3. Heat storage unit according to claim 2, wherein the cooking surface (9) is a surface of a cooking plate (2) fitted in a second opening of the box (4) and in thermal contact with the salt composition (6).

45. Heat storage unit according to claim 2, wherein the cooking surface (9) is a surface of the light-absorbing plate (5).

54. Heat storage unit according to any of claims 2 or to 34, wherein the heat storage unit (3) is portable by means of handles (10).

6. A solar cooker (1) comprising:
a heat storage unit (3) according to any of claims 2 to 5;
a parabolic mirror (11) for concentrating solar radiation (12) on the light-absorbing plate (5) of the heat storage unit (3).







Thursday, 1 March 2018

Paper B 2018 Fuse for protecting an electronic circuit

Below a short answer to start the discussion.

The DeltaPatents team,

Jelle, Jessica, Nico.

===========================================================


Brief explanation

Client's letter

“Our invention has the advantage that the quality score (Q) of the fuse is much improved”. In draft claim 1 two ‘measures’ are introduced:
- cover layer covering the fuse track
- quality score is at least 60.


Description:

[002]: Two categories: fuses for low-sensitivity electronic components and fuses for high-sensitivity components.

[011] To protect low-sensitivity electronic components quality score Q should be greater than 30. To protect high-sensitivity electronic components quality score Q should be greater than 60.

First conclusion: client wants to provide a fuse for protecting high-sensitivity electronic components [= field].

[009] makes clear that the high quality score is a parameter determined according to an in-house protocol which is not specified in detail. Such a parameter may not be used. It also indicates that a high Q value indicates a low degree of metal reflow.

[004] makes clear that blowing of the fuse should be irreversible. Metal reflow endangers this.

[005] Aim of the invention is to provide a fuse which overcomes that problem.

The purpose is thus to provide an irreversible fuse for high-sensitivity electronic components which avoid/overcome reflow issues.

[005] (part of the solution) using a fuse track formed of AlCu.

Table 1, table 2, [011]: to have Q above 60 we need that the metal of the fuse track is AlCu alloy having a content of Cu in the range of 10-20% by weight and a cover layer made of epoxy resin.

This should be introduced in claim 1 replacing the quality score. It makes original claim 4 redundant.

The cover layer is part of the second embodiment described in [008] for Fig.2. The neck portion is optional and does not need to be incorporated into claim 1 (allowable intermediate generalisation with respect original claim 3.

[012] gives a nice definition of ‘smooth surface’ referring to Ra, better than the active formulation proposed by the client. This should be introduced in original claim 5.

Closest prior art:

Field: high quality fuse for protecting high-sensitivity electronic components

Purpose: provide an irreversible fuse which avoids/overcomes reflow issues

Structurally close: fuse track of AlCu alloy

D1: uses AlCu alloy with 15% Cu by weight, no protective cover. According to table 1: not high quality, not suitable for high-sensitivity electronic components. No further measure to deal with reflow. Conclusion: not close.

D2: Is irreversible (thus high quality), but solves the problem rather differently – not structurally close. The fuse is covered by glass causing an explosion. Reflow issues are thus avoided. Walls are needed to avoid that metal sprays from the fuse to the circuit. Seems not great for high-sensitivity circuits. Conclusion: not close.

D3: uses an AlCu fuse track and focusses on dealing with metal reflow [01]. Close in field and purpose. Structurally close enough.

Conclusion: go for D3 as the closest prior art.