Weight is over! EPO publishes results of the European Patent Administration Certification Exam
On January 4th, 2024, the EPO announced that 85 candidates had passed the most recent European Patent Administration Certification (EPAC) exam, which took place on October 12th, 2023 . With the majority of candidates enrolled in 2023 emanating from industry or private patent attorney practice, a very high proportion of the candidates were women (81%), just like in the first year. Twenty one contracting states and seven non-member states, including India, P.R., China, the United States and Kenya sent their candidates. According to the examiner’s report of the EPAC 2022 exam, only 35% of the candidates enrolled passed the exam. The official pass rate of the 2023 exam is not yet known, but might be expected to be very low. Indeed, even if the number of candidates who finally sat the exam is not yet known, about 700 people had enrolled.
Within our firm, we are pleased to announce that two of our paralegal team have passed the most recent EPAC exam. Together with our three paralegals who participated successfully in the 2022 exam, our office is now home to five Certified European Patent Administrators. They contribute to the high quality services our office guarantees in all matters relating to intellectual property.
The EPAC is a relatively recent initiative. The European Patent Office (EPO) officially announced in July 2022 that they were establishing a certification for patent paralegals and formalities officers. This was a major step forward in the professionalization of the patent profession. The EPAC has been specifically designed by the EPO for professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to independently handle the filing, prosecution, grant, and maintenance of European and international patent applications, touching upon all formal aspects of the European Patent Convention (EPC) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
At the European level, there was a growing demand for a certification mechanism for paralegals and administrative staff working in the field of intellectual property rights. By introducing the EPAC, the EPO aimed to bridge this gap by offering tailor-made training courses and a high-quality certification.
To obtain the EPAC, candidates must demonstrate their ability to handle patent applications independently and autonomously. This includes filing applications, monitoring procedural matters, and ensuring compliance with regional and international treaties and agreements such as the EPC, the PCT, and the Paris Convention, as well as national laws and other applicable agreements. Candidates must also have a thorough understanding of time limits, documents filing, fee payments, and post-grant procedures.
The EPAC exam is conducted annually online using an examination system with a lockdown browser, which provides limited access to EPO and PCT online sources. The first part of the exam consists of multiple choice questions and the second part of the exam has open questions. The candidates can choose to take the exam in one the three official languages of the EPO: English, French, or German.
In preparation for the EPAC 2023, the European Patent Academy supported over 700 candidates by offering a free-of-charge preparatory course as well as self-paced training materials. In addition, monthly study groups were set up, allowing candidates to benefit from collaborative learning.
The third edition of EPAC exam will take place on October 10, 2024, further building on the previous experiences but also further enhancing quality standard for professionals in the field of patent procedures. We at De Clercq & Partners embrace the EPAC as an excellent opportunity for paralegals, patent administrators, and formalities officers to showcase their expertise in effectively managing patent applications. The EPAC exam not only serves as a validation of their proficiency but also plays an important role in professional growth, and equips them with the necessary skills to excel in their highly demanding profession.
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