JUVE Patent asked international patent experts about the judges they hold in the highest regard. When it comes to France, Nathalie Sabotier received the most votes. This is unsurprising, as over the years her judgments have earned her a reputation as a fast and precise IP judge. Patent experts also favour France's Court of Appeal judges highly.
28 February 2022 by Christina Schulze
In latest JUVE Patent judges survey, the results from France show that patent experts nominated multiple judges from the Paris Court of Appeal. Certainly, one reason for this is the years of experience that French judges such as Françoise Barutel have.
However, Nathalie Sabotier is one of the most frequently-named judges. She is currently presiding judge of the third section of the IP chamber. At the Paris Court of First Instance, she currently presides over a number of important and large proceedings.
For example, one of the most extensive first-instance hearings is the lawsuit brought by Intellectual Ventures against Bouygues Telecom and Orange. Sabotier also led a case in MSD’s SPC battle over a cholesterol-lowering drug and acted as part of the judicial team shaping new FRAND case law in France. This is demonstrated most notably in the Philips against Xiaomi case.
Recently, the French government seconded Sabotier to the expert committee for the establishment of the UPC’s judicial structures. This confirms her role in the international patent scene. Patent experts view Sabotier as open-minded and particularly well-informed about pan-European jurisprudence in patent cases.
French patent attorneys particularly appreciate her transparency in the organisation and publication of judgments.
This is especially following recent legal restructuring in France in recent years, which have seen some interruptions in information provision on current case law. Although the changes did not affect patent law in particular, the wider market perceived it as unfortunate in the further development of European patent case jurisdiction.
JUVE Patent asked global patent experts for their favourite UPC candidates and favourite judges for national patent proceedings. Last autumn, 1,300 experts participated in the survey, with 35% of the survey’s participants from France and Germany respectively. The remaining participants were dispersed across other European countries, including the UK. Participants also came from Asia and North America.
You can see JUVE Patent’s methodology here.
Many respondents also voted for Carine Gillet, formerly of the Paris Court of First Instance. In September 2021, Gillet moved to the Court of Appeal in Douai due to the rotation of promotions in the French court system. In France, judges regularly transfer between other courts and specialties.
Carine Gillet has an established reputation based on her vast experience in technically-complex cases. The European patent community has taken notice of many of Gillet’s decisions, such as the proceedings between Eli Lilly and Fresenius Kabi. Here, the court awarded the patent owner one of the highest damages ever seen in French patent cases.
Gillet also made French patent history with her declaration of an anti-anti-suit injunction in the dispute between IPCom and Lenovo over the 100a patent. One lawyer said about Gillet, “She is bringing patent litigation in France to another level”. Many in the patent community would like to see Gillet as a judge at the UPC.
Patent experts nominated other French judges who are not currently serving in patent or IP chambers. Choices include François Ancel, Benjamin Rajbaut, François Thomas and Marie Salord. Such nominations away from the patent courts is certainly due to the French career system, whereby judges spend time in different fields of law. However, the courts have recently softened this practice.
Administrative staff increasingly consider the complexity of international patent cases and the advantage of patent experience when making staff decisions. Thus, votes for these judges indicates some hope that these judges will return to patent chambers.
France concentrates its IP jurisdiction on the first-instance Tribunal judiciaire de Paris, which has three chambers. The Paris Court of Appeal is the second instance.
Here, patent experts particularly highlight Françoise Barutel, Camille Lignières, Florence Butin and Agnès Marcadé. Françoise Barutel was most recently involved in the landmark decision on provisional damages in Zentiva’s appeal in the case against Eli Lilly. This concerned the cancer drug pemetrexed. Barutel was also part of the bench that shaped the new French case law on preliminary injunctions in pharmaceutical cases.
Florence Butin is also among the judges who have specific experience. Before moving to the Paris Court of Appeal in September 2021, she was involved in the dispute between Illumina and MGI over important DNA sequencing. She also ruled together with her colleagues Gilles Buffet and Nathalie Sabotier in the commercially-important dispute between Ceva Santé Animale and Bayer over veterinary medicine.