Gender-neutral documentation at the EPO
The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently published an advanced copy of the latest version of their Guidelines for Examination. The updated guidelines have been amended to use gender-neutral language throughout. The revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) which came into force on 01 January 2020 also use gender-neutral language.
The guidelines have been amended to delete gendered language such as “he”, “him” or “his”. The guidelines now use the plural pronouns “they”, “them” or “their”. Alternatively, some sentences have been amended to remove pronouns altogether. The 2020 RPBA also replaced the title “Chairman” with the gender-neutral title “Chair”.
We welcome the work carried out by the EPO to make their texts gender neutral. We believe that gender-neutral drafting provides many benefits for equality, diversity and inclusion, including promoting gender equality and equality across the gender-identity spectrum.
At D Young & Co, we have been proactive in taking steps to remove gendered language. For example, we have reviewed our template letters and removed the greeting “Dear Sir or Madam”. We continue to review our processes to make sure gender-neutral language is used wherever possible.