Thursday, 24 July 2014

Analysis of the Examiner's Report Paper C 2014

The report is out and can be found here

No real surprises for us in this report; the report matches our solution fully. If you want to get a thorough insight on how this exam should have been done and how it could have been done in a structured way, I will soon complete oour analysis and model solution, which you can order in our web shop.
If you want to have personal feedback, we can mark your actual exam paper and indicate where you've lost your marks and make some suggestions for improvement; you can order this also in our web shop as part of our correction paper program (it inlcudes the analysis and model solution).

The Exam committee mainly refrains from indicating which issues caused candidates problems.
One major problem is discussed: there was a translation mistake in the French version of Annex 4. It was the intention to perform a novelty attack on claim 1 based on A4. Based on the French version this was difficult to argue. In this exceptional situation, all candidates which did not perform this attack but instead did the inventive step attack A3+A5 (any how required for dependent claim 3) also got full marks.

From the discussions on blog web sites, it is clear that many candidates missed a priority issue (first application problem) with claim 1. Annex 6 was of the same applicant as Annex 1. If priority was valid for all claims, A6 could not be used (was an AU application published in the priority year of A1; not useable as such under Art.54(2) or 54(3)). The client indicates that A6 was of the same applicant as A1 and makes clear which content was already present in an earlier priority application of this applicant whose priority was not claimed by A1. Candidates were expected to argue that claim 1 was derivable from this earlier priority application, causing claim 1 to loose priority, making A6 an Art.54(2) document for claim 1, giving a second novelty attack on claim 1. Missing this was not deadly; based on the marking shown in the report, I guess that the penalty was 10 marks. Of course if you totally missed it, you gained time for the rest (which for many candidates may have been the biggest hurdle).

Claim 2 only required an attack under added subject-matter. Although the claimed features were disclosed in the filed application, they were not disclosed in the claimed combination. This may have caused some candidates some headache.

Claim 3 covered two embodiments (polyurethane or biodegradable starch copolymer). The second option was not entitled to priority as could be derived from the clients letter. For the second option, A6 could thus be used again. For both options A3 was the closest prior art (A2 and A4 are not related to the purpose of tensioning the skin; A5 is rather different; A6 cannot be used). For option a. the missing feature and effect could be taken out of A5 in a straightforward way. Similarly, for option b. the missing feature and effect could be taken out of A6 in a straightforward way.

Claim 4 was independent and related to a razor cartridge with a flexible fencing element causing less abrasion. In principle only A2 and A3 could be used as the closest prior art. A2 is closer because it already uses a fencing sheet and is more stable (purpose). The missing feature could be taken out of A3 in a straightforward way.

Claim 5 dependent on claim 4. The same attack could be continued; the feature of claim 4 is already disclosed in the closest prior art A2.

Claim 6 (independent) related to the use of a resilient foam in a razor. A novelty attack based on A5 was possible. No further attack required.

Comparing the model solution of the exam committee to the one I have prepared myself, I do not see surprising aspects in the attacks/argumentation. As already clear for several years, the committee requires the best possible argumentation also for arguing that a combination is straightforward. Probably, quite some candidates lost a few marks here.

Was the exam then easy? 
No, clearly not. Priority and added subject-matter was not of the easiest type.
In total 7 embodiments to attack; in principle doable if you get through the technical analysis in time. There was a lot of text to plough through. Probably candidates with a low mechanical insight struggled getting a grip of how the different types of razor heads were arranged, particularly since terminology differed in the annexes (not unusual in the C exam).

Friday, 11 July 2014

First results Paper C EQE 2014

Some figures for paper C:

Total number of candidates: 1080
Average mark:         40.8
Fails:                      605 candidates, 56%
Compensable fails:  114 candidates, 10.6%
Pass:                      361 candidates, 33.4 %

How does this compare to previous years?
Here a graph:

The conclusion seems to be that, after a slightly easier C 2013, we are back at pretty normal pass rates.
Paper C is not easy.