IP Ability, our community for disabled people, carers and their allies, have submitted comments in response to the European Patent Institute (epi) discussion paper about new “e:EQE” proposals.
The discussion paper was posted on the epi-learning website here. It invited all epi members to comment. It referred to the EPO’s move towards an online version of the qualifying exams for European Patent Attorneys (the so-called “e:EQEs”), and the potential opportunity that provided for a more ambitious restructuring of the exams. Proposals included updating to a model that better tests “fitness to practise”, and a more modular system with shorter individual exams. These were presented not as a final position but as a basis for ongoing consultation.
IP Ability’s submissions recognise that the sit-anywhere nature of the proposed e:EQE may be of benefit to many candidates, for example, in cases where a disability causes difficulty travelling. However, they urge caution as some candidates’ disabilities or conditions (whether temporary or longer-term) may actually impair access and performance when sitting the examinations in the proposed new online format.
On surveying recent candidates to sit the European qualifying examinations (see here), IP Ability noted that requesting reasonable adjustments under the current system has often placed an undue amount of stress on candidates looking to obtain equal access to the examinations. Such challenges and burdens remained with the move to the online system in 2021.
IP Ability have therefore requested that consideration be given to ensuring equal and fair access to the proposed examination format, taking account of – and accommodating – the needs of all candidates. They encouraged the epi to conduct an equality impact assessment before committing to any proposals.
You can read the full submissions here.