A rigorous pan-European system exists for qualifying as a European Patent Attorney. Once a year, simultaneously across Europe, candidates sit identical exams albeit in different languages (English, French or German).

The pass rates for the final examinations are low relative to the figures for many other professions. Historically, UK candidates have fared very well when compared to those from other European countries.

The numbers for the 2018 exams have recently been released. The published statistics are detailed and it is not straightforward to determine overall pass rates. But according to my analysis, 48% of UK nationals who took at least one of the finals exams this year successfully qualified as a European patent attorney. For French nationals the statistic was 33%, while for German nationals it was 29%.

Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, the ability of UK based European Patent Attorneys to practise will not be affected. (The European patent system is independent of the European Union. There are currently 38 Contracting States of the European Patent Convention, including all 28 Member States of the European Union and 10 others. Assuming that Brexit goes ahead, there will be 27 EU Member States and 11 others.)

As the UK approaches an unknown future in Europe, it seems we are well placed to serve our domestic and international clients in representing their European patent interests.