Survey on possible changes to qualification system for patent attorneys – your views needed!

The Informals Committee would like to know your views on the idea of introducing “formative” or “continuous” assessment into the existing Foundation exams for patent attorneys.  To tell us what you think of this idea, please complete the following survey by 16:00 on Monday 18 January 2016:

To find out why we’d like your views on this particular topic, please read the “backstory” below.  If you have questions about the survey or the backstory, please contact Informals Honorary Secretary Ben Charig ( or Informals Education Coordinator Miranda Kent (

We look forward to receiving your responses!


In 2013, IPReg launched its “Consultation on simplifying and modernising the examination system for qualifying as a patent attorney”.  Part of that consultation was a proposal to “[r]equire all trainee patent attorneys to pass an accredited examined Foundation level course and no longer accredit Foundation level examinations which are provided independently of corresponding accredited courses” (emphasis added).

IPReg received lots of responses to its consultation, including a detailed response from the Informals.  The IPReg Board then commissioned a report to inform IPReg’s thinking about next steps.  IPReg received the report in summer 2015, as noted in one of our previous blog posts.

IPReg has kindly shared the report and an accompanying briefing note with the Informals Committee.  The briefing note provides profession-focused context for the report.

From the briefing note and the report, we understand IPReg’s principal concerns about the current Foundation exams to be that:

  1. the Foundation exams are an examination-only route to part qualification, i.e. there is no teaching and no “formative” or “continuous” assessment as part of the Foundation exams;
  2. such an examination-only route may be sub-optimal from an educational point of view; and
  3. the examination-only Foundation exams route is an outlier compared to other legal professions.

(“Formative” or “continuous” assessment is assessment which gives the learner feedback during the learning process.  Essays, presentations, group discussions and modular written or oral tests can be used for formative assessment.)

IPReg has asked the Informals Committee to comment on the report.  To help us do that in a way which reflects your views, please take a few minutes to fill in the survey at the link above.  The survey asks questions about how the existing Foundation exams could be modified to include formative/continuous assessment.  Please submit your responses by 16:00 on Monday 18 January 2016.


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