The recent issue 01/2008 is ready for download here (PDF).
From the Table of Contents:
Results of the election to the fifteenth epi Council
epi Tutorials 2008
Accession of Norway to the European Patent Convention
Fall from grace (On Grace Periods in EPC2000) by Pete Pollard (NL) and Cees Mulder (NL)
EPC 2000 from the perspective of EQE candidates by Brian Cronin (CH)
Raising the Bar? by P. Rosenich (LI)
Product-by-Process Claims - A Jurisdictional Comparison by N. Finnie (GB), B. Bennett (AU)
Die Inventivpsychologie und erfinderische Täigkeit by S. V. Kulhavy (CH)
Formular-Kommentar Markenrecht by G. Eisenführ (DE)
Furthermore, this issue brings an interesting piece of statistics titled "List of Professional Representatives as of 29.02.2008". It is essentially a breakdown of epi membership base by country (i.e. place of business or employment; not so much exciting) and by route of admission (quite interesting). There are two routes to go for being entered into the list of professional representatives:
Article 134 EPC 1973, requiring to take a quite difficult European Qualification Examination (EQE), or
Article 163 EPC 1973, requiring entitlement to represent natural or legal persons in patent matters before the central industrial property office of the Contracting State in which he or she has his place of business or employment, during a one-year time window after entering into force of EPC 1973 or of accession of one of the later acceeding countries (so-called "Grandfather's clause")
The statistics is as follows:
What appears to be quite remarkable is that no less than 40% of all epi Members have been entered on the list on the basis of the "Grandfather's Clause". In Germany, one of the founding fathers of the EPC, roughly a quarter of the national chapter are "Grandfathers".
Why at all has the EQE been installed from the outset? I don't know. When the OHIM (Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market) was created, a political decision had been taken not to install any kind of additional qualification exam. Instead, there is something like an eternal Grandfather's Clause in place, saying that a candidate must be entitled to represent natural or legal persons in trade mark matters before the central industrial property office of a Member State Where, in that State, the entitlement is not conditional upon the requirement of special professional qualifications, persons applying to be entered on the list who act in trade mark matters before the central industrial property office of the said State must have habitually so acted for at least five years. However, persons whose professional qualification to represent natural or legal persons in trade mark matters before the central industrial property office of one of the Member States is officially recognized in accordance with the regulations laid down by such State shall not be subject to the condition of having exercised the profession. (Article 89 CTMR).
Did anybody seriously complain that the Professional Representatives enroled with OHIM without sitting another exam are less qualified for their job compared to the European Patent Attorneys admitted to represent before the EPO who took the EQE?
BTW, deadline for the next issue of epi Information is May 19, 2008. Documents for publication should have reached the epi Secretariat by this date.