I was delighted to read a recent press release from the UK’s chartered institute of patent attorneys (CIPA) indicating that the UK patent profession continues to out-qualify representatives from the other major European countries when sitting European patent exams. CIPA’s press release states that, in 2014, 43% of UK candidates passed the European qualifying exams, compared to 34% of candidates from France and 25% of candidates from Germany. Definitely news to warm one’s, slightly biased, cockles.
On looking at the official EPO statistics, however, I was not convinced that the pass percentages quoted by CIPA could be legitimately compared. The EPO’s statistics for the 2014 exams (link here) provide the total number of candidates sitting one or more of the finals exams, and the total number of candidates who have qualified as European attorneys. As the exams may be sat on a modular basis, many candidates who have successfully passed some, but not all, of the four exams do not count towards the total number of qualified attorneys. Without engaging in a rigorous statistical analysis, I suspect that the percentages quoted by CIPA do not necessarily provide the complete picture. With that thought in mind I decided to look at the percentage of candidates passing each separate exam. Fortuitously, the results still look good for the UK profession.
The results in the above table show percentages of candidates passing each of the exams (there are options available for papers A and B) in 2014. With the exception of paper C (where the French sneak a higher percentage of passes) the UK profession had significantly higher pass rates compared with French and German candidates. For all exams the UK had the lowest percentage of fails.
So why is the UK profession so good at producing qualified European patent attorneys? (you are no doubt asking).
I can only speak for Reddie & Grose, but in our case at least we have a genuine enthusiasm for training and have a genuine sense of pride when our trainees pass exams. We devote substantial amounts of time to our training programme, including our two-week intensive training induction, and are keen that we should “give something back to the profession”. A further part of the answer may be found in the fiendishly difficult UK patent exams that prospective UK patent attorneys need to tackle to gain UK Registered Attorney status. Once a candidate has prepared for the UK exams, European exams appear as light relief.
Congratulations to all recently-qualified European patent attorneys. Well-deserved pints of warm British ale all round!
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.