Dr Victoria Barker, a patent attorney at Finnegan, has sent us this encouraging account of her recent visit to European Patent Office (EPO) oral proceedings, just two weeks after returning from maternity leave. She wrote the post for our Women in IP community, and also by way of a thank you to the EPO Boards of Appeal for their helpful and inclusive approach.

Vicki writes:

Oral proceedings at the Board of Appeal can be intimidating for the most experienced of attorneys. Oral proceedings at the Board of Appeal in Haar two weeks after returning from maternity leave presented all the usual challenges and a further logistical issue, as my son is still breastfeeding (his choice, not mine!). Suddenly stopping breastfeeding can cause health problems such as mastitis, and I therefore needed a private room at the EPO to pump milk for my son.

I’m delighted to say that the EPO was very accommodating of my request and was able to provide me with a private room in the non-public part of the building. Without this, attending the oral proceedings would not have been possible.

I’m grateful to the Board of Appeal for making it possible for breastfeeding attorneys to continue to represent their clients at oral proceedings. I hope that the Opposition Division and EQE Exam Secretariat are equally accommodating so that working mothers at all stages of their careers can get the support they need.


Photo of a child with his mother and a glass of German lager

Vicki and her son sharing a cheeky beer in Munich!



Page published on 25th July 2022
Page last modified on 25th July 2022

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