Mannheim Regional Court establishes third patent chamber

In addition to the 2nd and 7th Civil Chambers, Mannheim Regional Court now has a third chamber for patent litigation. The 14th Civil Chamber will also be responsible for patent cases. However, the 7th and 14th Civil Chambers currently do not have a presiding judge.

16 February 2023 by Mathieu Klos

Mannheim Regional Court With the addition of its 14th Civil Chamber, Mannheim Regional Court now has capacity to hear more patent cases. However, the court is yet to find a presiding judge. ©eyetronic/ADOBE STOCK

Following the Düsseldorf and Munich regional courts, the Regional Court Mannheim now also has a third chamber for patent litigation. At the beginning of the year, the court changed its business allocation plan and assigned patent cases to the 14th Civil Chamber. The plan regulates which chambers of the court are responsible for which issues.

Mannheim Regional Court expands

Previously, the 14th Civil Chamber was primarily responsible for antitrust disputes. This currently includes damages claims against various sugar producers in connection with the sugar cartel. It also handles disputes relating to unfair competition, energy law, press law and personality rights.

Therefore, unlike the courts in Düsseldorf and Munich, Mannheim has refrained from establishing a new chamber with a main jurisdiction for patent cases. Instead, the Mannheim court will distribute patent cases among the 2nd, 7th and 14th chambers. Traditionally, the 2nd and 7th Civil Chambers are responsible for patents.

Joachim Bock, spokesperson for Mannheim Regional Court, explained, “The expansion of the 14th Civil Chamber’s jurisdiction is based on the consideration of placing the distribution of patent disputes on a broader basis.” According to Bock, this is possible because the court has the necessary staff and technical expertise.

Redistribution of cases

The court will now allocate new cases on technical property rights according to a fixed rule. Such cases include utility models, employee invention disputes, plant protection and topography data. The 2nd Civil Chamber will hear the first nine cases, while the next eleven will go to the 7th Civil Chamber. Subsequently, the 14th Civil Chamber will hear the following four cases.

According to a survey conducted in 2022 by JUVE Patent, the Mannheim court had 142 new cases on technical IP rights in 2021, which is 14 more than in 2020. However, the case volume in Mannheim had decreased significantly from 2017 to 2020. In 2017, the court had recorded 215 new cases.

JUVE Patent is not yet aware whether the court’s redistribution of cases among three chambers will lead to a further increase in the number of cases. Figures for 2022 are not yet available.

Judges wanted

Despite the developments, however, the 14th Civil Chamber is still looking for a new presiding judge. The position has been vacant for some time, with Dirk Böttcher currently acting as presiding judge. Böttcher is also a member of the 2nd Civil Chamber and thus has experience with patent litigation.

According to JUVE Patent information, he was a member of the 6th Civil Senate at the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe in 2020 and 2021. On social media, he has already been named as the new presiding judge of the 14th Civil Chamber. However, the court did not confirm this when asked by JUVE Patent.

The 7th Civil Chamber also still lacks a presiding judge. In October, Peter Tochterman left office after being appointed as one of five full-time judges at the Unified Patent Court, meaning he is now busy with its preparations. His long-time deputy, Thomas Schmidt, currently leads the chamber. The court also did not confirm reports that Schmidt will succeed Tochtermann.

Thus, the 2nd Civil Chamber is the only patent chamber in Mannheim with a regular presiding judge. Holger Kircher is currently at the helm.