Patent Agent Qualifying Examination - 2011 Report
February 29, 2012
In accordance with section 13 of the Patent Rules, an Examining Board is established for the purpose of preparing, administering and marking the qualifying examination for patent agents. In accordance with section 14 of the Patent Rules, these exams are administered in April of each year.
The 2011 Examining Board consisted of a Chair and four members from the Patent Office, and twelve members of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. Members of the Examining Board are appointed for a period of three years. The Chair of the Examining Board is the chair of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's Patent Appeal Board.
The Patent Appeal Board provides administrative and logistical support for the examination, including by arranging examination locations and ensuring that candidates for the examination have submitted the information required by section 12 of the Patent Rules in the prescribed manner and are duly informed of whether or not they have met the requirements for writing the examination.
The qualifying examination is administered as four papers, and to be eligible for inclusion on the register of patent agents a candidate must obtain at least 50 marks (50%) on each paper and have a total of 240 marks (60% overall average) on the four papers. Candidates may write one or more papers in a given year, and the marks from a given paper on which a grade of 60 or more was achieved will carry forward to future attempts to pass the examination. A candidate who is entitled to carry forward marks is said to have achieved a "partial pass" of the examination in respect of those papers whose marks can be carried forward.
The four papers are labelled A to D and cover:
- A - Patent Drafting;
- B - Validity of a Canadian Patent;
- C - Response to an Office Action;
- and D - Infringement of a Canadian Patent.
Preparation of the Examination
Prior to the preparation of the examination, the Examining Board participates in a coaching session provided by a consultant versed in best practices for the setting of professional accreditation exams. Each of the four examination papers is prepared along with a marking grid, and these documents are translated to allow candidates to write the exams in their official language of choice.
The translated documents are reviewed to ensure accuracy, recognizing that linguistic differences may exist between the English and French versions due to the technical content and the specialized nature of the subject matter of each paper. Any such differences are taken into account in the marking grid, and the Examining Board members evaluate the papers using a bilingual marking grid.
Overview of the 2011 examination
The 2011 qualifying examination was administered on April 12, 13, 14, and 15, 2011 in eight locations across Canada, namely: Calgary, Edmonton, Gatineau, Lethbridge, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver.
259 candidates wrote the examination, of whom 79 wrote all four papers, 68 wrote three papers, 74 wrote two papers and 38 wrote only one paper. The total number of papers written was 706.
Marks were distributed to the candidates in late July. Upon request, candidates are sent their examination materials to determine whether to request a review of their marks.
The Examining Board considered requests for review from 38 candidates. Six reviews resulted in a candidate achieving a partial pass, but no review resulted in a candidate passing the examination as a whole.
Of the 259 candidates who wrote the examination, 23 passed, two candidates achieved a partial pass on three papers, nine candidates achieved a partial pass on two papers, 48 candidates achieved a partial pass on one paper and 177 candidates failed all papers.
Only 225 candidates were writing all outstanding papers, and hence could achieve an overall pass of the examination. The global pass rate is therefore 10%. Annex A provides detailed results for each paper.
Comparative data covering annual average marks for each paper since 2003 is provided in Annex B. Statistics are provided on pass rates, both overall and "first try", and a breakdown of the number of attempts required by candidates successful in 2011 is also provided. This data shows that in 2011 the average successful candidate required 3 to 4 years to pass the examination, and that 87% of successful candidates passed the examination within 4 years.
I extend my thanks to all members of the Examining Board for their work in ensuring that the qualifying examination for patent agents continues to be administered fairly and impartially, thus providing the public with the assurance that their Patent Agent was entered on the register only after having passed a rigorous process, and is well qualified to assist them in the protection of their intellectual property.
Chair, Examining Board