The world of Intellectual Property joins Pride Day activities

Already in many countries, Patent and Trademark Offices (PTOs) and other IP (private and public) bodies have been promoting and developing action plans for the inclusion and visibility of LBGTQIA+ for years.

May was the European month of Diversity at the Workplace and June is known worldwide as Pride month. The events and gatherings that take place around Pride Day have their roots in the arduous history of groups that have struggled for decades to be accepted and overcome prejudice, triggering the creation of organisations in favour of sexual diversity and the rights of the LBGTQIA+ community (L: lesbian, G: gay, B: bisexual, T: trans, I: intersex, Q: queer, A: asexual and the symbol + to include all groups that are not represented in the above acronyms), which brings together all people with sexual orientations and gender identities that are not those of the dominant group. The inclusion of the LBGTQIA+ community is one of the particular cases that are framed within the management of Diversity in the professionalworld and job marketand, of course, without exception, in the businesssector that concerns us: Industrial and Intellectual Property (IP).

Thus, in many countries, Patent and Trademark Offices (PTO), organizations and agencies of the IP sector have been promoting and developing action plans for the inclusion and visibility of these groups for years. In the field of Industrial and Intellectual Property, there is a wide range of professionals who work in a rigorous and objective manner, but the counterproductive effects of unconscious bias are still a reality today, which these public bodies, IP entities and organisations recognise and have taken a series of measures to address, among which we can cite below some examples that have been put into practice.

An outstanding case is the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO has a “Diversity & Inclusion” panel with around 60 examiners who act as promoters of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) issues, participating in discussions with colleagues to identify potential problems and establish plans for improvement, promoting initiatives and supporting D&I networks, gathering ideas and exchanging experiences in order to adopt best practices in day-to-day IP-related work that are in line with the LGTBIQA+ diversity and inclusion guidelines. The EPO’s D&I objectives can be found on the EPO website at the following link:

In fact, the EPO has a dedicated recruitment campaign for professionals from under-represented groups that are targeted for Diversity management, including the LGTBIQA+ group.

In a similar direction and with the same common purpose, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regularly carries out different actions aimed at promoting openness and transparency to demonstrate equal opportunities based on merit in recruitment and career progression processes. For example, the USPTO launches job openings specifically for LGTBIQA+ professionals and promotes the work of LGTBIQA+ people in innovation, science and, more particularly, IP (Industrial Property examiners and agents).


These are a sample of measures to motivate a professional group that currently still needs more visibility. It is a fact that in the lists of the most influential LGTBIQA+ people published by the media at Pride 2020, there is no representation from the scientific or IP sector.

Openness and acceptance of the LBGTQIA+ community in the profession is key in providing diverse teams and work environments. We come across several networks of organisations linked to Intellectual Property that hold free events open to everyone to showcase the CVs and experiences of LBGTQA+ people who are professionals in the sector.

Another effectively committed to D&I organization in the IP workplace is sited in the UK and is called “IP Inclusive”. They define themselves as a platform, created by volunteers, for people who voluntarily want to get involved to a greater or lesser extent in pursuit of a common purpose: to promote and enhance equality, diversity and inclusion among the people who make up the entire IP sector (Patent and Trademark Attorneys, staff within IP registering offices, IP administrators, secretaries and paralegals information scientists, searchers, patent drafters and illustrators, translators,…).

Anyone (as I did) can sign up via their website to the “IP Inclusive Charter”, which is a public endorsement of the principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the IP professions, which is about making six commitments designed to be made by individuals and organisations working, in private or public practice, within or related to the IP industry, regardless of their size and structure and regardless of where they are based and the nature of their involvement in IP. IP Inclusive currently brings together six communities of Diverse groups, including in particular “IP Out”: the inclusive IP community for LGTBIQA+ people and allies that provides support, information and organisation of events, usually talks and roundtables, as well as more informal social events. Almost daily, “IP Inclusive” issues a newsletter and publishes posts that promptly inform every person who has joined some of the communities provided by this platform. It is therefore a great way to stay involved and make sure you don’t miss out on news, stay up to date on the progress of issues, relevant resources and events important to equality, diversity and inclusion in the IP professions, and in particular in the community of interest, such as the one dedicated to inclusion and respect for affective-sexual diversity (“IP Out”).


Both the EPO and the USPTO, other PTOs, as well as other organizations related to both IP and Diversity are joining in the celebration of Pride Day and have announced different events, such as meetings (face-to-face or online) between LGTBIQA+ professionals or allies, webinars to inform about specific aspects and events to create a network of discussion to help make progress towards a diverse working and social environment.

EPO Vice President of Corporate Services and Chair of the organisation’s Diversity and Inclusion Panel, Nellie Simon, raises the rainbow flag at the 2020 Pride celebrations.


Last but not least, because we are focusing on the national scene, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) does not have, to date, any specific Diversity and Inclusion programme that directly concerns the LBGTQIA+ community. However, according to the general regulations of the Public Administration, the SPTO must reserve 7% of the vacancies for people with disabilities (another of the groups included in the Diversity management) in the selection processes. On the other hand, since 2019, according to sources at the SPTO, all the Office’s staff have been invited to the events held on the occasion of the “Equality Week” celebrated by the Ministry (virtually because of the pandemic). In addition, the SPTO is part of the Ministry’s Equality Commission, to which they must send the data required under the 2nd Equality Plan (and now that it has come into force, they will continue with the 3rd Equality Plan). The SPTO, as a Public body, confirms and clarifies that these measures are applied as they involve the Public Administration and its public bodies, but they are not an initiative of the SPTO itself.

To finish the article, going back to the beginning, we remind you that in May 2021 H&A voluntarily joined the European Diversity Charter, together with more than 1,000 companies that have already signed this European charter defining the principles to develop and implement diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace, among which, as mentioned above, are included those aimed at providing a work environment where people of any gender identity and affective-sexual diversity can feel truly integrated, respected and on equal terms with any person in the profession.

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