Page published on 30th November 2023
Page last modified on 30th November 2023


Changes are being proposed to the European Qualifying Exams (EQEs) by which IP professionals qualify as European Patent Attorneys. Among other things, the exams are intended to migrate to a more digital setting. This guest post, from Stephen Gill of IP sector recruiters Caselton Clark, explains why the proposals need to take account of entrants from diverse backgrounds and ensure equal opportunities for all. You can find the original proposals here, and Caselton Clark’s full white paper on the subject here. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Stephen writes:

No one doubts the high levels expected within the EQE examination to maintain standards across Europe. I believe the proposed changes to the EQEs to a more digital setting should evaluate and take considerations to those from diverse backgrounds ensuring equal opportunities for all.

It would be unfair to not consider adapting a pragmatic approach to help level the playing field for those who would otherwise be at a disadvantage, either based on health grounds, disability, injury, or impairments which may be beyond their control, so as not to hinder any candidate’s progression.

Equally those on maternity or paternity leave or those who may be providing specific care for a close family member should also be taken into consideration. We have seen a transformation during the last decade in terms of how our places of work have had to adapt; the same should apply here.

Educational systems across Europe now cater for many specific needs to ensure that each student has the support and tools needed to flourish and to prevent any unfair advantage. This should also consider those who have come from different educational backgrounds but nevertheless possess the right attitude, skillset and motivation to be successful.

Photo of Stephen Gill

Stephen Gill

Our white paper is aimed at hiring managers, HR departments and others who have a vested interest in ensuring not only the best, but the right people get the support they need to progress within the patent profession. The purpose of this was to look at the implications from a recruitment, onboarding and training perspective and to start thinking about what adaptations may be needed and how this may impact your internal processes, particularly for those who provide training and mentoring to individuals going through the EQEs, but also for those who are currently going or have gone through the exams.

Further clarity is therefore needed, otherwise this may discourage those who are thinking of becoming a patent attorney. However, we are confident that there is enough time to take all of this into account so when the transition takes place from 2025 the playing field will be as level as it can be.

You can view our white paper “Re-Envisioning Talent Processes:ย Understanding the Effect of EQE’s New Examination Format”, at

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