Archive | 2014, January | (4) posts

Fuelling up

Today CEO, central and regional management as well as all business unit managers gathered in Awapatent’s Gothenburg premises. The menu: inspiration talks, breakout sessions, updates on CRM tools, visionary thinking about the new year and solid planning for the next few weeks, along with preliminary 2013 figures.

Returning home, I’m pondering the pros and cons of having nearly 300 colleagues in two countries. There’s no denying that some aspects scale unfortunately with size. For one thing, our discussions about company-wide routines would be far less complex if the routines were intended for fewer people. Yet if our client records are maintained in a uniform fashion, we get a data set from which incredible statistics can be extracted.

It’s also a tempting idea that a smaller business could be more easily managed, e.g., a single- office firm whose managers don’t have to travel to meet. True maybe – what if I wouldn’t have had to leave Stockholm today! – but then we’d miss the sweet dynamics of parting and meeting. And without its two corporate cultures brought together under one roof, maybe Awapatent would have been an insular, narrow-minded place to work in?

Still on the train, I catch up with my emails. I’m reminded my client accounts range from cute start-ups to rather gigantic companies. I love the mix. If I’m reasonably on top of things – ah yes, the due date list – I have the luxury of choosing tasks to suit my daily mood. In a neat little boutique firm I’d surely be working with SMEs too, but it would probably take an effort to convince larger corporations we were the best choice for their cases. 

So while my body is complaining after today’s heavy programme and 900 km in a train seat, right now I can’t help feeling pretty well positioned.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Anders Hansson, European Patent Attorney

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Taking the EQE C exam for the last time?

Four years ago, 2010, in the beginning of March, I sat the European Qualifying Examination, to become an authorized European Patent Attorney, for the first and (as I thought then) only time. I had studied hard enough, and also had the good fortune of staying clear of the infamous “Swine flu”, and passed all four parts of the exam (A, B, C, D) in one go. 

There was one part of the exam which I actually thought was fun to study for, and fun to take during those four days in Stockholm and that was the C exam. The C exam for those of you who are not familiar with the EQE is the part where the European Patent Office (EPO) wants to test you to see if you know your way around drafting an opposition. The exam takes place on the last of three exam days in a row, lasts for six (for most people grueling) hours of reading, thinking and writing. The pass rate for this exam is usually well below 50% or even below 40%. It is, in short, a really difficult exam. But as I said, I enjoyed this exam almost as much as I enjoy solving difficult math equations or a puzzle.

So last year when the Examination Committees asked potential new members to apply for marking the 2014 exam, and drafting and testing new exams, I applied. In December the decision of the President of the EPO was announced and I am now a member of the Committee that drafts and marks the C exam. The members are expected to put down about 120 h on this task, marking the exams and joining meetings in Münich together with other markers. I still don’t know the number of exams that I will be expected to mark, but I do know none of them will come from any of my Swedish colleagues taking the exam this year, as the nationality of the marker can never be the same as a candidate taking the exam.

Also, as a benchmarking exercise I have been asked to sit the 2014 C exam in Stockholm. Therefore as it turned out, I was wrong, I had not taken the exam for the last time. And for all those of you who think this is a bit crazy – you are probably correct. I would also like to wish those of you taking the exam this year, the best of luck!

Sofia Willquist, European Patent Attorney

There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe

Required study preparations before our fourth lesson of the EQE Basic program concern the topics “Rights Conferred” and “Inventive step”, and include 25 Articles, 14 Rules, two Protocols and a number of Enlarged Board of Appeal decisions.

Browsing through the material, I realize that while my copy of “The Annotated European Patent Convention” uses a mere five lines to spell out Article 56 per se, it uses another nine hundred, ballpark, to cover the annotations. And that’s just one of the 25 Articles to be read.   

The annotations to Article 56 cover e.g. the “Person skilled in the art”, and further the expected knowledge, abilities and impediments of such a person. 

I have been working in the IP business for some considerable time. I know that “the skilled person” in the sense of Article 56 is a hypothetical person; an intellectual tool for the mind; a means to establish a level of obviousness necessary to assess inventive step.

I didn’t know, however, that the Paris Convention is not formally binding upon the EPO.

Since “EPC is clearly intended not to contravene the basic principles concerning priority laid down in the Paris Convention” (G 3/93), this specific ignorance on my part has not had any practical consequences in the past, luckily.

The priority right, the right to the patent application, the inventor’s right to be mentioned and the right to the patent – all these examples of rights are more or less related, but each right is still unique and separate from the others. They arise at different points in time, due to different events, under different Articles of the EPC.

Now, I would like to be able to say that I am lucky enough to  e n j o y  reading Enlarged Board of Appeal decisions concerning rights, but, honestly, I can’t. Decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal are just not written to be enjoyable.

You can tell from the lay-out.

I read them anyway, however, and I am finding that, having read them, I enjoy discussing the concerned subject matter, both with my fellow EQE Basic participants, as we help each other out with the preparations, as well as during the discussions in class.  

So when I enjoy our discussions regarding rights conferred, it’s not due to luck, its due to adequate preparation. And that makes perfect sense for the future.

I’m not going to be lucky enough to pass the European Qualifying Exam.

I am going to be adequately prepared to pass.

Malin Gullstrand-Bergh, Patent Attorney

Footnote: Title from “Have space suit – Will travel” by Robert A. Heinlein 1958

The IP5 launch a PPH pilot programme

According to the EPO, the world’s five largest Intellectual Property Offices, called IP5, have announced the agreement to launch a comprehensive IP5 Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme, IP5 PPH, intended to take effect in January 2014. 

The IP5 are the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean IP Office (KIPO), the State IP Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

When entering into effect the IP5 PPH programme thus means that the EPO will have PPH agreements with not only the JPO and the USPTO but also with the KIPO and the SIPO. This offers new interesting possibilities for applicants using the EPO as the office for first filing of patent applications and desiring accelerated examination of their corresponding patent applications outside Europe.

The IP5 PPH programme will utilise of both PCT and national work products. Also, the PPH arrangements currently operational between any two of the IP5 offices will be integrated in the IP5 PPH programme.

The details of the IP5 PPH programme are not yet published, but as always the Awapatent IP Blog will follow the developments.

Troels Peter Rørdam, European Patent Attorney & Certified Danish Patent Agent

Link to the press release of the EPO regarding the IP5 PPH programme