Matthias Zigann will move to the Higher Regional Court Munich as presiding judge at the beginning of November. There, the well-known Munich patent judge will take over a new senate that will also decide on IP cases. Patent experts also expect the Unified Patent Court to appoint him as a judge in its supranational system.
19 October 2022 by Mathieu Klos
Matthias Zigann, currently presiding judge of the 7th Civil Chamber at the Regional Court Munich, is one of the best-known patent judges in Germany. As confirmed by Zigann and a court spokesperson, he will move to the Higher Regional Court Munich on 1 November. Here, he will become active as presiding judge. Patent experts also speculate that he will be appointed as a judge at the Unified Patent Court.
However, over the next few days the court’s executive committee must formally decide on if, when and at which senate he will preside over. It is also set to decide on the creation of an additional civil senate, although the spokesperson did not comment on the exact details.
According to JUVE Patent sources, however, half of the new senate will decide on IP cases and the other half on legal issues from non-IP areas. Zigann is apparently to be at the helm.
Zigann is also considered a shoo-in for the Unified Patent Court, which will announce the names of its judges later today. According to certain patent circles, Zigann will head the local division in Munich, together with another well-known Munich patent judge.
First, however, Zigann will work full-time as a Higher Regional Court judge. If the UPC begins as planned in April 2023, he will need to devote between 20 and 50 percent of his working time to cases at the new international court.
The Regional Court has not yet appointed a successor for Zigann at the 7th Civil Chamber, with a call for applications currently underway. Until the court makes its final decision, deputy presiding judge Benjamin Kuttenkeuler will conduct the chamber’s business.
Matthias Zigann has led the 7th Civil Chamber since 2012, having already been a member of the chamber for six years. Globally, the patent market regards him as one of the best-known judges for patent infringement proceedings. For example, in recent years he has made a significant contribution to the rising importance of Munich as a venue for patent cases.
Above all, he made a name for himself with decisions in mobile communications lawsuits and in connection with disputes over connected car patents. The decisions in the disputes between Nokia and Daimler are a prominent example, while the sales stop for Ford in a lawsuit brought by IP Bridge also caused a stir.
Zigann’s chamber was also instrumental in developing the German courts’ defences against anti-suit injunctions (ASIs) issued by Chinese courts in global SEP and FRAND disputes. The chamber usually responded to these by issuing so-called anti-anti-suit injunctions (AASIs). Sometimes, however, industry representatives and lawyers criticise the chamber for being too friendly to SEP holders.
The increase in mobile communications cases and AASI requests have contributed significantly to the rising importance of the Munich patent chambers in recent years. Munich is now closely behind Düsseldorf with regard to the number of new cases. The Munich Regional Court responded to growing case numbers in 2021 by creating a third patent chamber. As such, the creation of a further IP senate with Matthias Zigann at the helm makes sense. Currently there are two senates at the Munich Higher Regional Court that deal with IP cases, the 6th and the 29th Senates. However, the 6th Senate mostly hears appeals in patent cases. Lars Meinhardt presides over this senate.
Ten years ago, Düsseldorf took a similar step. In 2012, the Regional Court created a third chamber. A second patent senate at the Higher Regional Court followed two years later.
The appointment of Matthias Zigann at the Higher Regional Court Munich is just the latest in what is a busy time for court moves. At the beginning of this year, Lars Meinhardt took over the patent senate of the Higher Regional Court in Munich as presiding judge. He succeeded Konrad Retzer, who retired the previous autumn.
Most recently, Hamburg Regional Court, which ranks fourth in Germany for patent cases, underwent a reshuffle in IP. Stefanie Zöllner moved from the Regional to the Higher Regional Court to take over the IP senate. The Hamburg Regional Court has not yet appointed her successor.
There will also be changes in Düsseldorf next year, following Thomas Kühnen’s retirement. The court will seek a successor to head the 2nd Civil Senate, which specialises in patent cases. (Co-author: Konstanze Richter)
Update 31.10. 2022: Matthias Zigann will no longer rule on patent cases at national courts in the future. The Presidium of the Higher Regional Court decided on 24 October that Zigann will head the 38th Civil Senate in future. About 50 per cent of the court’s work will be devoted to intellectual property. Patent cases, however, will remain under the jurisdiction of the 6th Civil Senate. The 38th Civil Senate will be responsible for soft IP cases including copyright. The Senate will deal with non-IP cases for the remaining 50 percent.
Nevertheless, Zigann will remain active in patent law. The UPC Administrative Committee appointed him on 19 October with a 50 percent position for the Munich local division of the UPC. However, Zigann will initially work full time for the Higher Regional Court Munich until the latter starts its work on 1 April.
JUVE Patent updated this article on 31.10.2022 to reflect the latest developments