State of the Patent Bar in 2016

light-gearsIt’s hard to believe, but 2016 is right around the corner. Therefore, we’d like to give you some information on the state of the Patent Bar. This includes the new updates planned for next year.

Breaking Down the Different MPEP Versions

The 9th Edition of the MPEP is dated as being created in November 2013 (and published in March 2014).  This is the edition of the MPEP that is currently tested on the Patent Bar exam along with a few supplements.

Much of the America Invents Act (AIA) was added into the 9th Edition as well as a new chapter, chapter 2800 which covers Supplemental Examination.

We have had these updates included into our Patent Bar review program for well over the last year and have had many clients successfully pass the exam, moving onto getting their first job as Patent Agents or Patent Attorneys.

A new update is now on the horizon.

Normally, when the USPTO updates the MPEP, they move onto Revisions. So we would typically expect the next update to be called the 9th Edition, Revision 1. However, this time, instead of using a revision number, they’ve decided to use the date of the update. So they are officially calling this latest update the 9th Edition, Revision 07.2015. To make it even more confusing, they published Revision 07.2015 in October 2015 and then again in November 2015.

The first publication, the October 2015 version, substantially updated many chapters of the MPEP.  In addition, they added an entirely new chapter of the MPEP. This is chapter 2900 which covers International Design Applications.

The second publication, the November 2015 version has kept everything the same from the October 2015 publication with the exception of revising a few sections in chapter 2100 and Appendix II (which includes the list of decisions cited). They also revised some form paragraphs in several MPEP chapters so they re-dated those chapters to November 2015.

It’s not as straightforward as it could be, but essentially, the 9th Edition, Revision 07.2015 which was last revised in November 2015 is the most current version of the MPEP.

When are Each of These Editions Being Tested on the Patent Bar?

The USPTO does not always test over the latest version of the MPEP because it takes time to update the exam, adding in new questions. In addition, they must provide at least 90-days advance notice before they update the exam to a new version of the MPEP (and any additional materials).

If you visit the Office of Enrollment and Discipline page on the USPTO.gov website, you’ll notice they haven’t made new updates clear (yet):

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They still just list the last update.  We would think they will eventually update their webpage to reflect the coming update.

However, if you click on the link for the Source Materials for the Registration Examination on that page you will be taken to a PDF that clearly refers to the update.

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This PDF includes the source materials through March 8th, 2016. This is what we have been covering in our course for about the last year and a half. If you’ll notice, the link to the MPEP leads to the earlier version of the 9th Edition MPEP which is the one created back in 2013.

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Everyone who plans to take the exam prior to March 8th, 2016 should continue on with these older materials.

If you scroll down the list of the source materials, you will see further source materials. These are the source materials for exam test dates beginning March 16, 2016.

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These include a link to the 9th Edition, Revision 07.2015, last revised in November of 2015. So this will be the version to review if you are planning to take the exam after that test date. In addition to the MPEP, the source materials also include 4 supplemental PDF’s that have been tested for over the last year. So the supplements will stay the same, however there is new material in the latest version of the MPEP (Revision 07.2015).

Two major changes to the MPEP include the addition of Chapter 2900, which covers International Design Applications and changes to Chapter 1500. Both of which were updated due to the implementation of the Hague Agreement.

Many other chapters were updated as well (in fact, nearly all were), but much of their updates stem from a few key rule and law changes that were applied throughout the chapter.  Many of these chapters include updates to a particular topic, so there will be bits and pieces of the updates spread throughout some of the more heavily updated chapters.

For instance, portions of Chapter 200 were updated due to the Hague Agreement and chapter 600 includes changes to the application filing date due to the PLT (Patent Law Treaty). Many other chapters were updated due to the PLT as well.

So there is definitely new material that will start being tested beginning March 16, 2016.

In addition, the Patent Bar exam often includes the older version of material that was changed and tests your knowledge of that within questions that include dates. Often during a transition period after an update, you have to know both versions of a law or rule to answer a question correctly as they’ll include key dates in the question.

We carefully review the changes and make the appropriate updates to each and every chapter in our Guidebooks. These are highly consolidated versions of the MPEP (we cut out about 70% of the material in the MPEP).

In addition to including key points from the MPEP within the Guidebooks, we provide you with a variety of tools including summaries, video digests, and frequency charts. We also provide you with hundreds of Workbook quiz questions that test over these key points in addition to practice questions. Each of these tools will be updated as well.

Patent Bar Review Course Updates

We are currently updating everything in our Patent Bar Review course as we’re writing this. Approximately 50 hours of our time has gone into the updates at this point. We expect that number to reach well over 100 hours by the time we are completely finished updating the course. So this update is not something trivial.

We have been offering Patent Bar review materials since 2001. In that time the Patent Bar exam has been updated several times, enough that we’ve lost track of the exact number. We have a solid strategy for updating clients on the new material that has worked for all those years.  And we always provide updates in a timely manner.

Our plan for how to handle these new updates (as well as provide an excellent course for those taking the exam before the new material is added) is to offer clients the choice to use pre-March 8th or post March 16th materials. We are actually in the process of creating a second set of Guidebooks with many of the chapters being created from the ground up.

Once you enroll (or sign up for a Trial Account), when you click on the Guidebook tab, you will see you are presented with two choices.

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One tab is for Pre-March 8th, 2016 (Ed9) and the other is for Post-March 16th, 2016 (Ed9 07.2015). If you’re taking the exam after March 16th, you’ll want to use the Ed9.2015 tab.

If you’re taking the exam prior to March 8th, 2016, please use the Ed9 version (this was the previous version). We’ll change all this after the March 8th deadline so that there’s only one Guidebook choice, but for now, this makes the most sense. It’s a lot of work, but we take providing you with updated materials very seriously.

About half of the new Guidebooks are finished. The rest is coming.  In addition, we also offer an explanation of how to handle the changes no matter when your test date is from within the course.

We understand that many of our new clients or even those who enroll in the next few weeks will be preparing to take the exam prior to March 8th (it’s still a little less than 3 months away which gives many people enough time to fully prepare).

In addition, even if you’re planning on taking the Patent Bar after the deadline, there’s not much point in using the brand new materials because all the test questions will be in beta format for several weeks (if not months).

Any clients who started with the previous materials and now need to switch can always contact us. Simply let us know what you’ve done already and your estimated test date and we’ll provide you with the best plan on how to continue. We always provide this at no extra cost to those currently enrolled.

It’s a lot of work, but we try to provide the most valuable review materials available. We take pride in our course and spend 100’s of hours each year working toward updating the course and adding in new features to help you pass the exam as conveniently as possible.

One important note to make is that now is a great time to prepare for the exam. You will not need to concern yourself the slightest with the newest chapter (chapter 2900) or with the new updates if you plan to take the exam prior to March 8th, 2016.  And March 8th is still more than 2.5 months away so depending on your schedule, you may have plenty of time to prepare.

And if you do plan to take the exam after the new updates go into effect (especially if you’re planning on taking it after they are moved out of the beta phase), make sure you enroll in a Patent Bar review course that takes updating for the exam seriously. In addition, make sure the course is created by an actual Patent Practitioner so you’re sure you get what you need to prepare for and pass the exam.

We will keep you apprised of our progress with the updates and any relevant information that comes out in the future.

All the best …

Sincerely,

Lisa Parmley

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