Patent Agent Qualifying Examination — 2018 Report

Overview

In accordance with section 14 of the Patent Rules, the Patent Agent Qualifying Exam is administered at least once a year.

The Patent Appeal Board (Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)) provides administrative and logistical support for the examination, which includes ensuring that candidates for the examination have submitted the information required by section 12 of the Patent Rules and notifying candidates as to whether or not they have met the requirements for writing the examination. CIPO also takes care of examination venues and administrators for each location, and communicates results of the exam to the candidates.

The Examining Board is established for the purpose of preparing, administering and marking the examination. Members of the Examining Board are appointed for periods of up to 3 years. The Chair of Examining Board is the Chair of the Patent Appeal Board at CIPO.

The 2018 Examining Board consisted of a Chair and 16 board members of which 4 were employees of CIPO and 12 were nominated by the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC).

The qualifying examination is administered as 4 papers. The 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. 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 on the 4 papers. Candidates may write 1 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.

Preparation of the Examination

Prior to the preparation of the 2018 Exam, a Joint Meeting was held in November 2017 between the Examining Board and the IPIC Patent Agent Examination Standards Committee ("Committee") to discuss the administration of the 2017 Exam and discuss best practices for the administration of the 2018 Exam. The Committee reviews the development and administration of the Patent Agent Examination in order to assist the Examining Board in maintaining recognized standards for certification.

The Examining Board prepares the 4 examination papers along with 4 marking grids. These documents are translated to allow candidates to write the exam 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 grids. The Examining Board members evaluate the papers using a bilingual marking grid.

Statistics

The 2018 Exam was administered on May 1, 2, 3 and 4, 2018 in 11 locations across Canada, namely: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Gatineau/Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Moncton.

A total of 137 candidates wrote examination papers. The total number of papers written was 367.

Candidates were informed of their marks in July 2018. Upon request, candidates received their examination material in August to determine whether to request a review of their marks.

The Examining Board considered requests for review from 16 candidates for Paper A, 6 candidates for Paper B, 6 candidates for Paper C and 11 candidates for Paper D. 6 of these reviews resulted in an overall pass. 3 partial pass for Paper A and 1 partial pass for Paper B resulted from these reviews.

Of the 137 candidates who wrote examination papers, 33 candidates received an overall pass, 42 candidates received a partial pass and 62 candidates wrote at least 1 paper and did not achieve any pass.

A total of 119 candidates were writing all outstanding papers, and hence could have achieved an overall pass of the examination.

Considering the 33 candidates having received an overall pass, the global pass rate is therefore 28%.

Of the 33 candidates that received an overall pass: 18% (6/33) of them wrote all examination papers on their first attempt and succeeded, 69% (23/33) of candidates achieved an overall pass after 5 attempts or less and 12% (4/33) of candidates achieved an overall pass after 11 attempts or less.

Table 1 provides 2018 data for each paper.

Table 2 and Figure 1 provide average marks for each paper since 2005.

Table 3 and Figure 2 provide overall pass rates and first try passing rates since 2005.

Table 4 and Figure 3 provide the number of attempts it took for candidates to achieve an overall pass in 2018.

Table 1

Data According to Each Paper in 2018
Paper A Paper B Paper C Paper D
# of papers 117 74 64 112
average mark 57% 48% 58% 43%
marks 60 + 43 23 38 4
50 to 59 20 24 41 22
40 to 49 23 23 12 37
under 40 14 30 9 37
Highest 89.5% 82.5% 87% 69%
Lowest 19.5% 8% 35% 17%

Table 2 and Figure 1 – Average Marks for Each Paper Since 2005

Average Marks for Each Paper Since 2005
Paper A Paper B Paper C Paper D
2005 52% 52% 55% 47%
2006 52% 49% 55% 38%
2007 55% 43% 54% 38%
2008 53% 51% 49% 51%
2009 50% 45% 50% 50%
2010 44% 41% 61% 47%
2011 40% 44% 55% 47%
2012 38% 42% 48% 49%
2013 36% 44% 55% 38%
2014 45% 45% 57% 45%
2015 41% 49% 61% 43%
2016 42% 54% 64% 39%
2017 37% 48% 51% 45%
2018 57% 48% 58% 43%

Table 3 and Figure 2 – Overall Pass Rates and First Try Pass Rates since 2005

Overall Pass Rates and First Try Pass Rates since 2005
Overall Pass Rate First Try Pass Rate
2005 16% 3%
2006 12% 2%
2007 28% 5%
2008 17% 4%
2009 15% 4%
2010 13% 2%
2011 10% 1%
2012 7% 1%
2013 15% 1%
2014 25% 2%
2015 19% 1%
2016 12% 3%
2017 20% 2%
2018 28% 5%

Table 4 and Figure 3 – Number of Attempts for those candidates achieving Overall Pass in 2018

Number of Attempts for those candidates achieving Overall Pass in 2018
Number of Attempts to Achieve Overall Pass in 2018 Number of Candidates
1 6
2 9
3 10
4 2
5 2
6 1
7 1
8 0
9 0
10 1
11 1
12 0

Conclusion

I extend my thanks to all members of the Examining Board for their hard work and dedication in ensuring that the Patent Agent Qualifying Exam continues to be administered fairly and impartially, thus providing the public with the assurance that patent agents are entered on the register only after having passed a rigorous process and are well qualified to assist them in the protection of their intellectual property.

Suzie Beaulieu
Acting Chair, Examining Board

Date modified: