It is the time of the year where John White and I gear up for our summer Patent Bar Review Tour, criss-crossing the country teaching the PLI Patent Bar Review Course all over the United States. Next week we will be at PLI headquarters on Seventh Avenue in New York City, followed by courses in Houston (June 6-10), San Francisco (June 19-23), Boston (July 11-15) and Chicago (August 7-11). If you cannot make it out to a live course you can always do the home-study version of the course which is delivered via the World Wide Web.
Of course, as we are gearing up for a busy summer so are those who are peddling what really can only be characterized as fake, counterfeit versions of the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. PLI has been the top patent bar review course for years, so it is not surprising on some levels that there are those fraudulently using the PLI name to sell knock off courses that are simply not what they purport to be. So buyer beware! If the price seems extraordinarily low it is because it is not a legitimate course. Also, the only way to acquire the latest version of the PLI patent bar review course is to purchase the course directly from PLI.
Some will no doubt wonder how I am so sure that there are fake, counterfeit courses on eBay. Good question. Take a look at this eBay posting. Whoever bought this course for $499.95 just wasted $499.95. Although the ad says that it is the latest version of the PLI course that is fully updated that is simply not true. It is a lie!
The posting says that the purchaser will acquire a version of the course that was first purchased in March 2012 and includes 36 audio CDs, 8 video DVDs and Patware 9.0. That is simply not possible because by March 2012 the courses being sold did not include any of this. John White and I updated the course at the beginning of 2011 to take into account the then newly tested material, which included KSR rationales and guidelines, Bilski guidelines and the 112 guidelines. At this time in the beginning of 2011 audio CDs and DVDs ceased to be provided, and Patware was no longer available in disk form. The last version of Patware on disk was indeed Patware 9.0, but that did not include any questions on KSR, Bilski or the 112 guidelines. Simply stated, a course that included audio CDs, DVDs and Patware on disk had to have been purchased at the very beginning of 2011 or earlier. The claims in this ad are simply false.
As we were updating the course at the beginning of 2011 to take into account KSR, Bilski and 112 we had long discussions among our team. The decision was made with everyone in agreement. No CDs or DVDs would ever ship in a PLI course again. This is because over the years we started to see a pattern. Those who take our course and fail the first time do so for one of several reasons. Either they do not follow the post-course program as we lay it out. The main culprit time and time again was people simply listening to the CDs over and over again in their car on the way to and from work or school. Others would watch the DVDs over and over again. Not enough time was spent doing practice questions and other important post-course activities. The CDs and DVDs were a crutch for some that were leading to failure, so we eliminated that crutch.
PLI patent bar review lectures can still be watched, but they are viewed online. The lectures have been viewable online since the the end of the first quarter of 2011. So if you have lectures on CD or DVD by John White they do not contain any newly testable material that has made its way onto the exam since April 2011. That means no KSR, no Bilski, no 112 guidelines and nothing on the new appeal rules that became testable in January 2012.
This eBay ad also says that the course “[i]ncludes brand new supplemental disc including rule changes for this fall/winter exams for 2012 and 2013.” Again, that is simply impossible, at least if the claim is that this is a PLI disc. If it is not a PLI disc than it is just misleading, which legally is a version of false advertising.
John White and I are tasked with updating the course to make it compliant with the newly testable information from the America Invents Act. So far very little of the America Invents Act is testable on the Patent Bar Exam. This will all change sometime during the Fall of 2012. The PTO seems poised to update the exam with the September 16, 2012 AIA implementations possibly by the end of September 2012. Similarly, we expect the March 16, 2013 AIA implementations to begin to be tested as early as the end of March 2013.
Let me be perfectly clear. It is impossible to purchase a PLI course that includes materials and questions updated to take into account the September 2012 and/or March 2013 changes to the law. Those materials have not been written yet, and there are no questions that have been written either. I know that with 100% certainty because we are in a holding pattern pending the release of the final rules from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
There were numerous comments and the final rules for the September 2012 implementations will be different in at least some ways from the proposed rules released earlier this year. For that reason we have decided to largely put off preparing materials pending the release of the final rules packages, which is anticipated to occur in July 2012. So it is impossible to purchase a PLI course today that includes materials geared for a test you may take in October 2012 or April 2013. The rules are not even finalized so no one outside those writing them internally at the USPTO even know what the rules will be for certain.
The morale of the story is this: There are those out there who sell counterfeit copies of the PLI course on eBay and elsewhere. These counterfeit copies will not help you pass the exam. If anything these counterfeit courses will give you a false sense of security. The exam has dramatically changed since April 2011 with even larger, more dramatic changes in store for the Fall of 2012 and the Spring of 2013. Studying materials aimed at an exam given at the beginning of 2011 or earlier is a recipe for disaster. When the USPTO starts testing new material they test it heavy, so no amount of studying off old, out-dated materials will suffice. There simply won’t be enough questions on that older material to get you to the 70% level you need to pass the exam.
Buyer beware! Legitimate copies of the PLI course can only be purchased through PLI.