Patent Agent Qualifying Examination — 2012 Report

From: Canadian Intellectual Property Office

February 28, 2013


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 2012 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 admistered 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 2012 examination

The 2012 qualifying examination was administered on April 24, 25, 26, and 27, 2012 in ten locations across Canada, namely: Calgary, Edmonton, Gatineau, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria.

A total of 231 candidates wrote the examination. Of those 231 candidates, 174 wrote Paper A, 186 wrote Paper B, 97 wrote Paper C, and 142 wrote Paper D. The total number of papers written was 599.

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 35 candidates. Two reviews resulted in a candidate achieving a partial pass, and one review resulted in a candidate passing the examination as a whole.

Of the 231 candidates who wrote the examination, 17 passed, no candidates achieved a partial pass on three papers, 15 candidates achieved a partial pass on two papers, and 53 candidates achieved a partial pass on one paper. 163 candidates failed all papers.

Only 186 candidates were writing all outstanding papers, and hence could achieve an overall pass of the examination. The global pass rate is therefore 11%. 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 2012 is also provided. This data shows that in 2012 the largest percentage (by number of attempts) of successful candidates required 4 years to pass the examination, and that 88% of successful candidates passed the examination within 5 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.

Chris Evans
Chair, Examining Board

Annex A

Statistics by examination paper (2012)
  Paper A Paper B Paper C Paper D
# of papers 174 186 97 142
average mark 35.9% 43.5% 55.4% 38.1%
marks 60 + 11 22 45 6
50 to 59 17 40 21 22
40 to 49 38 51 11 39
under 40 108 73 20 75
highest 66.5 77.5 90.5 66.5
lowest 5 0 17 0

Annex B

Graph 1

Average Grades by Year
03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
Paper A 48.30% 52.30% 51.70% 54.98% 53.20% 49.50% 43.90% 40.40% 38.44% 35.90%
Paper B 57.20% 51.60% 49.30% 42.62% 50.80% 45.00% 40.50% 43.50% 42.20% 43.50%
Paper C 55.60% 54.70% 54.80% 53.90% 49.40% 50.00% 61.00% 54.80% 48.29% 55.40%
Paper D 55.60% 46.60% 37.60% 38.04% 50.50% 50.10% 46.60% 47.10% 48.79% 38.10%

Graph 2

Overall and First Try Pass Rates
03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
First time 8% 9% 3% 2% 5% 4% 4% 2% 1% 0.5%
Overall 31% 31% 16% 12% 28% 17% 15% 13% 10% 7%

Graph 3

Years Taken to Pass the Examination by Candidates Successful in 2012
1 2 3 4 5
Percentage of Candidates 5.88% 17.65% 17.65% 29.41% 17.65%
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