Thursday, 4 March 2021

Our attempt at e-EQE Paper A 2021 - Coated engine components

Here is our quick first attempt at the claims (ignoring formal aspects).

We note that this claim set has two independent claims drawn to a method of manufacturing the claimed product. We considered including the (e-beam and plasma spraying) methods described by the client in a single claim, but decided to err on the safe side and claim both methods separately.

We welcome your comments. (Click "Read more" to see all 15 claims and all comments)

You may also wish to check our First impressions blog and the comments thereto - here
The complete A-paper is available here.


The DeltaPatents team

Jelle, Nico, Sander, Roel and Jessica


Claims 

 

1.  A coated engine component (10, 20) comprising a substrate (11, 21) coated with a ceramic oxide layer (13, 23), 

  • wherein the substrate (11, 21) is made of a superalloy, 

  • wherein the ceramic oxide is a metal oxide that melts at a temperature higher than 1600°C, 

  • wherein the ceramic oxide layer haa thickness of at least 25 micrometre, 

  • wherein the ceramic oxide layer has a columnar microstructure comprising columns with spaces (15a, 15b, 25) between the columns (14a, 14b, 14c, 24a, 24b), and 

  • wherein the angle between the columns (14a, 14b, 14c, 24a, 24b) and the surface of the substrate (11, 21) is between 75 and 105 degrees. 

 

2. The engine component (10, 20) according to claim 1, further comprising an adhesion layer (12, 22) between the substrate and the ceramic oxide layer, wherein the adhesion layer is a nickel or cobalt alloy containing 10-50 wt.% of aluminium and up to 25 wt.% of chromium or yttrium. 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Paper A e-EQE 2021: first impressions?

To all who sat the A-paper today:

What are your first impressions to this year's A-paper?
Any general or specific comments?
Surprising elements in the client's letter and the prior art?

What was the effect of doing it online? Of typing your answer rather than writing it by hand? Could you benefit from being able to copy from the exam paper into your answer? And from copying parts of your answer elsewhere into your answer?
How did you experience taking the exam from your home or office location rather than in an examination center?
(How) was it different due to the due of the LockDown Browser?
What was the effect of the situation that you had to take the exam largely from the screen (as only a  part could be printed) rather than from paper?
Did you experience any technical difficulties during the exam? How & how fast were they solved?

Did you have enough time?
How many marks do you expect to have scored?

What is your expectation of the pass rate and the average score?

How did this year's paper compare to the papers of the last few years?
Similar difficulty level?
Could you find the wording for claim features in the clients letter and the prior art?
Was the subject-matter well understandable, for chemists as well as e/m candidates?
Multiple independent claims? Functional features?

The paper and our answers

Copies of the paper will be provided on this blog as soon as we have received copies of the papers, preferably in all three languages (English, French and German). Should you have a copy, please send it to any of our tutors or to training@deltapatents.com.

The core of our answers will be given as soon as possible in a separate blog post.

We look forward to your comments!

Comments are welcome in any official EPO language, not just English. So, comments in German and French are also very welcome!

Please do not post your comments anonymously - it is allowed, but it makes responding more difficult and rather clumsy ("Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous of 04-03-2021 23:24"), whereas using your real name or a nick nameis more personal, more interesting and makes a more attractive conversation. You do not need to log in or make an account - it is OK to just put your (nick) name at the end of your post.

Please post your comments as to first impressions and general remarks to this blog.
Please post responses to our answer (as soon as available) to the separate blog post with our answer.
Thanks!

Update:

Paper A 2021 blog will open after the end of the exam, 3 March 2021 13:30

Good luck with paper A!

Our EQE blogs will be open for your comments and opinions w.r.t. the Pre-ExamABand shortly after the exams. We will post our (provisional) answers to the various papers shortly after the exam. To facilitate the discussions, we will also post copies of the papers as soon as possible after we received reasonably clean copies.

Do not post any comments as to the merits of the answers of a certain exam paper/flow on the blogs while an exam/flow is still ongoing. Also, do not post the invigilator password or anything else that may be considered the breach of the exam regulations, instructions to the candidates, code of conducts, etc (see, e.g.,  e-EQE website and the emails from the EQE secretariat).

All candidates, as well as tutors who helped candidates prepare for EQE 2021, are invited to contribute to the discussions on our EQE blogs! You can post your comments in English, French or German. You are invited to post your comments under your real name, but it is also possible to use a nickname if you wish to hide your identify.

The DeltaPatents team

 NB: you can not comment to this blog post; comments will be accepted from a new blog post as of 13:30

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Mock 2's Paper A (3 Feb 2021)

"To allow candidates to test the system also close to the real examination conditions, a second mock (Mock 2) is planned for the week of 1 to 5 February 2021. The examination papers will take place during that week at the same week days and times as the real examination, see here." (see e-EQE webpage)

Today, 3 February 2021, Paper A of Mock 2 was organized, using the Wiseflow platform which will be used for the e-EQE 2021 in the week of 1-5 March 2021.

The epi Mock 2 Paper A is based on Paper A (CHEM) 2010with:

(i)   a few paragraphs omitted, 
(ii)  essential features expressed more explicitly,
(iii) chemical formulas spelled out.

The epi version of the paper (amended compared to the original) and the epi Compendium can be found on the epi website: here.


Addition (03-FEB-21, 4.40 PM; JK): some of you will have noticed that you should rapidly get rid of your persistent ALT-TAB habits. Hit it twice and you will be expelled from Lockdown.

Key combinations that you can safely use are CTRL-A, B, C, F, I, U, V, X, Y, Z and CTRL-SHIFT-V.
CTRL-SHIFT-V is very useful for pasting text copied from the letter/prior art PDFs without the formatting of the PDFs (such as hard line breaks).

General tips:
  • You can open multiple tabs with the paper (Assignment), so this may help in simultaneously navigating within different sections, e.g., tab-1: clients letter, tab-2: D1, tab-3: D2
  • Use a small size font for typing in your answer, this helps in keeping an organized view in the editor
  • By using the various "header" styles of the editor, a table of contents is automatically created; however, it seems that jumping between various sections created by these headers does not work for everyone
  • Don't waste time on building an overview of all features - effects - fallback positions in the editor. We still recommend organizing all information from the client's letter and the prior art on paper - as you would have done for the all-paper exam. The search option within the PDF browser may facilitate checking for features  - including any indications of essential features ("must", "essential", "required" etc.) and advantages.

Please share your experiences with the platform, as well as any comments to the paper.

We allow you to post your comments anonymously, but it is recommended and appreciated if you identify yourself using your true name or a nick name - that makes communication much more pleasant and efficient than talking to "Anonymous 19 January 2021 22:23" and alike. 
Please refer to the "Problems with commenting" link on the top right of this blog page if you have problems with commenting (which may occur due to security settings, cookies, etc, esp when using Captcha with anonymous posts).

Thursday, 28 January 2021

A paper in e-EQE 2021

The EQE of 2021 will be conducted online (Annoucement). 

Important information was given in “Information on the schedule for the EQE 2021 examination papers” (link) of 2 December 2020 provides. 

The "Information" provides:

General

The EQE 2021 exam schedule is now available. Candidates are advised that this document may be subject to minor changes as testing continues.

The EQE 2021 will take place online using LockDown Browser. On examination days, candidates are advised to log on to the online examination system's internet platform at least 20 minutes before the start of the relevant paper. Information on how to register and log on to the online examination system will be communicated in due course.


Paper A – Wednesday 3 March 2021

Paper A will have the same syllabus and character as before. 

Paper A lasts four hours. [Note from the editor: this corresponds to the 3,5 hours from Rule 23(1) IPREE plus the additional 30 minutes from the Decision of the Supervisory Board of 17 November 2016]

Candidates will be allowed to print the prior-art documents and the drawings of the application, but not the letter of the applicant. The documents allowed for printing will be made available approximately ten minutes before the start of the examination.

Part            Content      Time        CET time

Paper A     Full paper    4 hours    9.30-13.30 hrs

Candidates may take unscheduled breaks. Further instructions relating to taking unscheduled breaks will be communicated at a later stage. It should be noted, however, that the exam clock will continue to run during unscheduled breaks, i.e. the examination will not be stopped.

The exam platform is available since late December, and a first set of exam papers (earlier EQE papers) was made available as Mock 1 paper to allow candidates to familiarize with the system (see here and our blog post here).

To allow candidates to test the system also close to the real examination conditions, a second mock (Mock 2) is planned for the week of 1 to 5 February 2021. (see here and our blog post here).

A FAQ provides additional information for the e-EQE in general.

Also note the information given in the e-EQE tutorials/ information sessions (recording available on the e-EQE website); see our blog post here for some highlights of the session of 14 January 2021.


Paper A details

Mock 1 (see comments to our blog on Mock 1) gives an example as to what is printable and what not:
  • the clients letter is only available online (pdf); the clients letter can not be printed;
  • the drawings of clients letter are available for printing in advance (as well as in the pdf during the exam)
  • the prior art is available for printing in advance (as well as in the pdf during the exam)

Thursday, 28 February 2019

EQE Paper A 2019 - Cell culturing device

Paper A of 2019 concerned a device for culturing cells. Different from the prior art, a gas-permeable membrane is used to form a cell culture chamber, which improves the exchange of gases and therefore increases cell growth.

Several issues were tested in this paper.

The paper provided two different ways of accessing the cell culture chamber: by way of an aperture in the frame or by temporarily opening and resealing one of the membranes. These two options should be covered by the main claim. The paper suggested the genus 'opening' to cover these two possibilities.

For some of the features it was mentioned that they were essential, and thus should be included in the claim. For example, that the membranes are liquid-impermeable is essential for all embodiments, and should thus be included in claim 1. Other features are only essential for some embodiments. For example, in the embodiment according to the figures, with an aperture through the frame, it is essential that the aperture is leak-proof.

The paper provided lots of features that could potentially be claimed. At the same time the client indicated that he did not want to pay additional claim fees, so that the candidates had to prioritize which features to claim and which not to. Some of these features were known from the prior art or obviously solve a problem. Such dependent claims will not provide a suitable fall-back position and should be omitted. For example, no claim should be formulated for: an optically transparent membrane, or adhesion coating; these are known features that bring their known advantages. Likewise, we think no claim should be formulated for the gas-permeability ranges for O2 and CO2. The ranges as stated are anticipated in the prior art, and no hint is provided how these ranges could be limited in an inventive manner. Also no claim seem needed for a rectangular frame. This is an obvious adaptation of the frame.

The gasket is a bit harder to decide. On the one hand it is a 'type of mechanical' seal, and thus presumably known in the art. On the other hand, the cited art does not mention gaskets, so probably their use in the field of cell culture chambers is not known. Furthermore, the gaskets provide a clear advantage. Accordingly, the use of gaskets in the field of cell chambers seems a good fall-back.

Another difficulty concerned the method of culturing cells. One could argue that all steps of such a method are known except for the use of the inventive cell culturing device. Accordingly, the method does not seem to protect anything that isn't already protected by the device claims. On the other hand, the method does cover the main use of the cell culture device and so may provide a fall-back position. The paper suggests that the cell culture device can be tilted, but does not explain why one would want to do so. If the intention is that tilting is beneficial for cell growth, then a method claim may be formulated that includes a tilting or shaking step. Probably, it is the intention however that this is an advantage of the full-filling of the chamber, and so no claim is required.

We find it conceivable that one would omit the cell-culturing methods and instead rely on  the protection of the device claims. If one were to go that way, one may need to include a device claim in which the cell chamber is completely filled with cell suspension.

 Below are the claim according to our solution:

1. A device for culturing cells comprising
-          a frame (1),
-          a first and second gas-permeable and liquid-impermeable membrane (2a, 2b), wherein the membranes are attached to the frame by means of a leak-proof seal forming a  cell culture chamber (4) between the opposing first and second membranes and the frame, and
-          at least one leak-proof resealable opening (3a, 3b) that allows substances to be introduced into or withdrawn from the culture chamber.

2. A device according to claim 1, wherein at least one leak-proof resealable opening (3a, 3b) is a leak-proof resealable aperture (3a, 3b) provided through the frame (1).

3 A device according to claim 2, wherein the at least one leak-proof resealable aperture comprises a gasket.

4. A device according to claim 3 wherein the gasket comprises an elastomeric material.

5. A device according to claim 4 wherein the gasket further comprises an antimicrobial agent integrated in the elastomeric material.

6. A device according to any one of claims 2 to 5, wherein the aperture has a diameter of 1 to 2 mm.

7. A device according to any one of claims 2 to 6, wherein the frame comprises two or more leak-proof resealable apertures (3a, 3b) allowing a user to introduce a substance into the cell culture chamber via one of the apertures while another substance is removed via another one of the apertures.

8. A device according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one membrane of the first and second membrane is a leak-proof resealable membrane forming the at least one leak-proof resealable opening, wherein the at least one membrane is attached to the frame with a pressure-sensitive adhesive.

9. A device according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein an average distance of between 1 mm to 5 mm is provided between the first and second membranes.

10. A rack for holding a cell culture device according to any one of the preceding claims in an incubator, the rack being configured to provide a space between the first and second membrane and the incubator to allow air to circulate.

11. A method of culturing cells, the method comprising
(a)  suspending the cells to be cultured in an appropriate amount of cell culture medium to form a cell suspension;
(b)  introducing the cell suspension into the cell chamber of a cell culture device according to any one of the preceding claims
(c)  incubating the cell culture device containing the cell suspension in conditions allowing cell growth.

12. A method of culturing cells according to claim 11 comprising filling the cell culture chamber completely with a cell suspension such that there is no head space containing air.

13. A method of manufacturing a device according to any one of claims 1 to 9, comprising
-          providing a frame (1),
-          providing a first and second gas-permeable and liquid-impermeable membrane (2a, 2b),
-          attaching the membranes to the frame to establish a leak-proof seal between the membranes and the frame, so that the membranes oppose each other and a cell culture chamber (4) is formed between the opposing membranes and the frame, and
-          providing at least one leak-proof resealable opening (3a, 3b) that allows substances to be introduced into or withdrawn from the culture chamber.

14. A method of manufacturing a device according to claim 13 comprising establishing the leak-proof seal using a pressure-sensitive adhesive.

15. A method of manufacturing a device according to claim 14 comprising establishing the leak-proof seal by ultrasonic welding.








Friday, 2 March 2018

Paper A 2018 Some explanation of our solution

A brief explanation of our choices
I will focus on the method claim shown below

The invention
The client’s prime interest is already expressed in [02] “our new method to create protrusions on the surface of glass panes. These glass panes can be used in VIG glazing”.

[06] Our new method allows manufacturing the spacers directly on the glass panes. No separate spacers needed; spacers are manufactured from the glass pane itself: simple, less costly, improved quality. No reduction of transparency.

That seems great. How is that then done:

[07] Spacers are made by irradiating the glass panes with lasers. This gives convex protrusions at the surface of the glass pane. Should be done at several locations to obtain a glass pane with several protrusions distributed over the glass pane.

The client summarizes this ‘new’ method in [13]:
  • irradiating a glass pane with a laser beam to create a protrusion at a first location on the surface of the glass pane facing the laser, 
  • solidifying the protrusion by terminating the irradiation, and 
  • repeating the irradiation and solidification at at least one location, different from the first location, on the surface of the glass pane facing the laser. 
Now we first have to check whether this method is indeed new and inventive.

It turns out that, in particular, D1 discloses all of this.

So we need to find additional features which have an effect in order to narrow down.

[13] In order to achieve good optical properties, it is essential that the protrusions have a convex shape (hemisphere, may be flattened at its upper part). Convex shape improves transparency by 20-40%. Other shapes only 10%. 10% can also be achieved by gluing a glass hemisphere to the glass pane.

It turns out that indeed D2 shows this 10% improvement.
D2 also shows convex spacers but not monolithic, formed from a same type glass. D2 is used for VIG glass.
D1 shows monolithic but not convex: irregular shape [04].

Thus, a claim on producing a glass pane for VIG glass with monolithic, convex protrusions seems to be new and inventive.

How do we need to change the method of [13] to produce such convex protrusions?

[18] As mentioned above, the protrusions must have a convex shape in order to achieve good transparency of the glass pane. It is necessary that the solidification occurs while a stream of cooling air is provided over the surface of the glass pane. A convex form can only be achieved with such cooling.

Thus it seems necessary to include the cooling in our method. We are then new and inventive and have already one key essential feature.

Other essential features?

Lasers

[08] Our method employs photo-induced absorption of the glass, see D1.

So far, we have the use of a laser in the claim. Is that enough for photo-induced absorption?

D1 [01], [03] make clear that such absorption can be raised sufficiently by a UV- or IR-laser. Just laser beam seems to be too broad: UV and/or IR is needed. Both continuous wave and pulsed lasers can do the trick [03].

Client states in [09]: contrary to the explanation given in D1, we did not succeed in our first attempts to heat glass to the working temperature locally with a UV range continuous wave laser. We have also had a corresponding negative result with a conventional IR range continuous wave laser. We think sufficient heat can only be achieved through a long irradiation time. Such a method would however not be economical.

It is difficult to decide on this. Yes, a safe choice is to immediately go down to a pulsed laser. It seems that at least a continuous IR laser technically works. A competitor may choose that option in order not to infringe. The client only did a first attempt. It is not clear that the UV continuous laser cannot work. So we decided not to put the pulsing in as a limitation. To avoid covering non-working embodiments we added, based on [09]: “heat glass to the working temperature”. We think that the skilled person can easily figure out what laser to use and for how long, since D1 describes the options.

Perpendicular laser

[12] If the glass pane is oriented perpendicular to the plane of the laser, the result is a protrusion which forms a monolithic structure with the glass pane with a circular base.
Should that be in the claim? We decided not to based on the last sentence of [12]: Such arrangements for irradiating surfaces with lasers are furthermore known to persons skilled in the art. So, he seems to be able to figure that out.

Height

Then we also see in [18]: It is known from conventional spacers in insulating glazing that the protrusions should have a height H of 100 micrometers or more for satisfactory insulation.
Should this height be in the claim? Not so clear. If the claim makes clear that it is for VIG glazing it seems not needed; it is known what height you need. If you do not have a link to VIG glazing it seems wise to add it.