Countdown to the European Unified Patent Court: A busy year for AIPPI’s UP/UPC Standing Committee to culminate with exciting Milan Congress Mock Trial
by Alan Johnson (Chair of the Standing Committee on Unitary Patent / Unified Patent Court)
This is an exciting and busy year for AIPPI’s Standing Committee on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court. It is widely predicted that the UPC will be fully operational in spring 2017, possibly April 2017. There are currently nine states which have ratified, with the remaining four necessary to start the system expected to have completed ratification during the current calendar year. Of those, the only one which is uncertain is the UK as a result of its EU membership referendum scheduled for June 23, 2016. Were there to be a vote to leave the EU, this would inevitably delay start-up of the UPC, by about two years, and almost certainly see the UK excluded from the project.
Another significant event in the run-up to the UPC was the announcement of judicial salaries in February. It is expected that the judges’ positions will be advertised in early May 2016, with appointments being made toward the end of this year. As is well known, judicial quality will be of the utmost importance to the success of the UPC. It is to be hoped that with the announcement of attractive salaries, all leading European patents judges will apply for UPC positions.
The UP/UPC Standing Committee has been busy in preparing for the Milano Congress. In particular, the Committee thanks the National and Regional Groups for their input into two surveys. The first was a survey on court fees and recoverable costs. The summary resulting paper was submitted to the Preparatory Committee. The second was a survey on the relationship between the jurisdictions of national courts and national and regional granting authorities in cases where those authorities retain jurisdiction over post-grant oppositions. This work is being compiled into a report which will be made available in due course. The Committee is considering whether a resolution on this issue might be proposed.
Finally, the Committee is excited to announce that, together with AIPPI’s Bureau, it will be running a UPC Mock Trial during the Milan Congress. The UPC Mock Trial will span a half-day session where eminent European patent judges will decide a number of procedural and substantive issues arising in a topical case scenario. Confirmed judges include Senior Judge Rian Kalden (Court of Appeal, The Hague), Mr Justice Henry Carr (UK Patents Court) and Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann (Munich I Regional Court). Members of the Committee will act as advocates. The session will also include a Q&A session.