A couple of weeks ago, on 13 November, CIPA held a webinar (“The UPC is calling You”) on the application process for unified patent court judges. The closing date for expressions of interest for UPC judges was 15th November 2013 and according to the Unified Patent Court website there has been an overwhelming response to the call for expression of interest of candidate judges. Not bad for a job where the salary, benefits, exact training schedule etc are not yet known!
“The UPC is calling You” webinar
The webinar and the subsequent Q&A were from Laura Starrs and Samantha Toyn of the UK IPO’s UPC taskforce. What follows below is a recap of some of the pieces of news to come out of the session:
Candidate Judges and Advisory Panel
- As far as the candidate judge positions are concerned then the exact Terms & Conditions of the positions are not yet know and the training has not been finalised though it will have a focus on linguistics and internships in national courts.
- The Advisory Panel that will be assisting in the selection of judges is being chaired by Sir Robin Jacob. The Panel met for the first time on 12th November and the full membership of the panel is expected to go up on the UPC website shortly.
The IT system
- The unified patent court will of course be a largely electronic court system and the UK is heading the team tasked with defining and delivering the computer system. Laura Starrs indicated that the system will likely be an off-the-shelf package which will be expandable and configurable.
- Since the UPC is not a legal entity yet (and won’t be until the UPC agreement has been ratified by at least 13 signatories) the IT system will probably need to be purchased by one member state on behalf of the others. As things stand it looks like the UK will buy the system.
UPC rules of procedure
- As far as the recent consultation on the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court was concerned then there were over 100 substantive responses and out of the sample that Laura Starrs has seen approximately 25% of the responses appeared to originate from the UK.
- The draft rules for the unitary patent are under discussion at the EPO. The level of renewal fees for the unitary patent is also being actively discussed with a meeting on 30th October focussing on validation statistics and trying to work out what an “average” EP patent is.
Ratification by the UK
- The UK is aiming for ratification in 2015. The UPC agreement was deposited in Parliament on 16th July 2013 and the Intellectual Property Bill is currently working its way through the House of Commons (it has already passed through the Lords). Apparently it is not expected that there will be further amendments to the IP Bill in the Commons which will surely be a disappointment to those people trying to torpedo Clause 13 (criminal provisions for registered designs).
- As well as the IP Bill there are other issues that will need to be addressed to allow ratification, e.g. amendment of the Patents Act, how to handle Crown dependencies such as the Isle of Man etc.
- Preparations have been made for UK secondary legislation and there will be (another) consultation on the issue next year, probably by April 2014. The consultation will be a fairly long one and will likely be open for around 10-12 weeks.
Other unitary patent news
Germany – one other item that was flagged at the CIPA seminar on 19th November (see our post here) was the possibility that Germany may want to re-negotiate the workshare of cases at the Unified Patent Court’s Central Division. When the split of cases was originally announced Munich was reported to be receiving all automotive cases. In fact they will be receiving patent cases in patent classification class F (IPC Class F). While this will cover many automotive cases it probably won’t cover all of them, hence the rumour of renegotiation. If you’ve heard more then please sound off in the comments below.
Last week the Twitter feed of the Munich based IP boutique law firm KSNH indicated that they were attending a seminar where the unitary patent was being discussed. Here are a couple of the more interesting tweets from their feed:
Mark Richardson 27 November 2013