Tips for Patent Agent Examination Viva Voice

Congratulations to all those who have cleared the exams! You are just a step away from becoming a patent agent. But the Viva Voice by no means is to be taken lightly. Beyond the knowledge of patent law that you’ve already mastered, crossing this bridge requires effective communication skills, a calm temperament & aptly understanding the expectations of the panel. While you have to travel the distance yourself, a little support always comes handy! Here are a few quick tips to help you sail through the Viva Voce smoothly:

1. The Viva is about letting the panel see that you are fit to walk the shoes of a patent agent, and do justice to that bare act in your hand, which basically means:

  1. You can understand and interpret the law properly
  2. Once understood, you can explain it to the client effectively
  3. You can represent the client’s best interests and make proper submissions/arguments in doing so

2. This would require that you can think quick, are pleasant and clear in your communication, and most importantly honest and trustworthy, which means if you don’t know the answer, say You Don’t Know and will have to check the provisions. The last thing they want to see is a person misguiding an applicant when he/she is unsure but rather upfront about not knowing and checking before he/she advises the client.

3. Be prepared with an answer to the following most common questions:

  1. What is your background? Tell us more about yourself
    Keep a short introduction ready with basic details of educational qualification and professional experience. Don’t try to give unnecessary details/ brag too much about your accolades/ take too many names of other people
  2. Why do you want to become a patent agent?
    Prepare an honest reply and communicate it with conviction
  3. What is the procedure for filing a patent?
    Prepare for explaining all scenarios – provisional application/ ordinary domestic application/ conventional application/ PCT National Phase application
    Learn the form and fees by heart and be ready to face cross questions on this
  4. What is the procedure of pre-grant and post-grant opposition?
    Be thorough with the timelines and grounds of opposition. Procedural differences between the two can also be asked
  5. Questions on Compulsory Licensing
    Along with the sections and rules, be prepared with a summary of Bayer vs Natco Compulsory Licensing Case

4. Effective communication is a key to success in Viva. Be mindful of the following:

  1. While it is important to sound confident, ensure that you are not overconfident and pompous
  2. When asked a question, politely ask them to repeat if you’ve not understood it properly
  3. While it is important to answer the question fully, stop if interrupted by the panel and continue only after they indicate.
  4. After finishing your answer, you may ask them whether you’ve addressed their question correctly

5. Practice the common questions once in a mock viva with your friends/ family members. Even if they don’t understand patent law, they can give you feedback on your communication style/ body language and the like, and you shall get a net practice before the actual one.

6. Last but not the least – Revise, Revise, Revise – the sections, rules, forms & fees

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