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European qualifying examination

The EQE is organised and conducted by an Examination Board consisting of EPO employees and members of the epi. The Board is assisted by an Examination Secretariat.

Aim of the EQE

The EQE is designed to establish whether the candidate has the requisite aptitude and knowledge to represent applicants before the EPO.

EQE syllabus

Candidates need to be particularly conversant with European patent law, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Paris Convention, EPO board of appeal case law and certain national laws in so far as they apply to European patent applications and European patents.


The examination papers are drawn up in the three official languages of the EPO (English, French and German). Candidates may be permitted to submit their answers in another official language of a contracting state.

The EQE, held once a year, comprises four papers:
Paper A (3 1/2 hours)
tests the candidate's ability to draft claims and the introductory part of a European patent application.

Paper B (4 hours)
requires candidates to prepare a reply to an official letter in which prior art has been cited.

Paper C (6 hours)
involves drafting a notice of opposition to a European patent.

Paper D (total 7 hours)
consists of legal questions (part I, 3 hours); candidates are also asked for a legal assessment of a specific situation (part II, 4 hours).

Passing the EQE

For passing the EQE, it is obligatory to pass all examination papers. However, at the first sitting, there is a compensatory system whereby under certain circumstances, low marks can be offset by good marks in other papers.