JUVE Patent brings you the latest news on the development of the UPC, as well as an overview of our previous coverage on the most important stages in the creation of the first European civil court.
Administrative Committee seeks three more UPC judges
In mid-November, the Administrative Committee advertised three additional positions that could not be filled in the first round. According to JUVE Patent information, this was mainly due to candidates rejecting job offers. Two positions at the Central Division of the Court of First Instance have now been advertised. A legally qualified judge is to serve in Paris in a 20% role. A legally qualified judge is being sought for a full-time position in Munich. Additionally, a legally qualified judge is being sought for the local division in Copenhagen, also for a 20% role. All positions are for six-year terms and begin on April 1. However, it is not clear at this time whether the court's preparations will be completed by then. The application deadline is 9 January 2023. The advertisements also provide financial details for the UPC judgeships. The gross monthly salary of a full-time judge at the Court of First Instance is €18,089, approximately a net monthly salary of €11,000.
UPC and EPO sign data-exchange agreement
EPO president António Campinos and president of the UPC’s Court of Appeal Klaus Grabinksi have signed an agreement on the exchange of data between the European Patent Office and the Unified Patent Court. The agreement is set to facilitate data exchange between the two institutions' patent registers. Furthermore, the agreement shall enable the EPO to potentially provide operational support to the UPC for training purposes.
Alexander Ramsay steps down as UPC Administrative Committee chair
The long-time chairman of the Preparatory and Administrative Committees, Alexander Ramsay, has resigned from his position at the Unified Patent Court. The Swedish native is once again concentrating on his duties as national judge. It is not clear yet whether the UPC is looking for a successor.
Austrian judge Walter Schober could oversee in German UPC cases
The Unified Patent Court's Administrative Committee has appointed Walter Schober as a judge for its Vienna local division. Schober is currently a judge at Vienna Higher Regional Court and is responsible, among other things, for patent cases in Senate 33.
UPC legal and technical judges list revealed
The UPC Administrative Committee has announced the final, complete list of its 85 judges, including 34 legally qualified and 51 technically qualified individuals. In doing so, the committee has clarified one of the most important questions in the preparation for the new court. Furthermore, Klaus Grabinski will lead as president of the Court of Appeal, while Florence Butin takes on the role of president of the Court of First Instance. For the full breakdown of the list, including news on the Presidium, read our breaking news story UPC Administrative Committee publishes final judges list.
UPC announces launch of new website
According to an announcement on the Unified Patent Court's website, a new more user-friendly version is to be launched on 7 November. The new website will contain information regarding the UPC's activities, such as legal documents, official communications, representatives and job vacancies. Furthermore, from November it will feature information on the court's judges. However, this is at odds with a roadmap published on 6 October, in which the UPC Preparatory Committee laid out its intention to finalise the selection of legal and technical judges before 19 October. UPC Administrative Committee chair Alexander Ramsay told JUVE Patent the Committee intends to announce the judges before the launch of the new website. Once the new UPC website, which will retain its current URL, launches in November, further content will be added during the court's Sunrise Period from January, followed by an update once the UPCA enters into force in April.
UPC technical judge training begins in Paris
The first phase of judicial training for the Unified Patent Court began last week and over the weekend, with around 50 soon-to-be technical judges descending on the Judicial Court in Paris. The programme, which was organised by the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI), involved background in areas such as judgecraft and patent law, as well as a mock trial. Established figures such as French first instance patent judge Nathalie Sabotier, and German Federal Court of Justice judge Klaus Grabinski, among others, led sessions for the candidates.
UPC team confirms imminent selection of judges
The UPC Preparatory Committee has published an implementation roadmap confirming that it will announce its selection of judges next week and into the following week (10-19 October). Confirmation comes amid rising intrigue in the European patent community – initially, the judges list was to be announced at the end of September, detailing the 90 full- and part-time judges who will preside over the court's instances. The roadmap also sets out that the UPC Agreement is currently planned for 1 April 2023, as well as detailing when it expects German ratification to be complete, the start of the sunrise period, and recruitment of judicial and administrative staff.
UPC introduces strong authentication scheme for CMS
The Unified Patent Court has announced further progress in the implementation of its brand-new case management system (CMS), due to be phased in next month. A strong authentication scheme has been introduced to replace the current account and password system, with the aim of keeping the system secure. In future, users will require an ‘electronic IDentification certificate’ that complies with EU regulations in order to access the CMS. Furthermore, users will be required to use a qualified electronic signature to electronically sign legal documents. According to the UPC, a physical device from an authorised provider will be needed to acquire these. This is expected to be rolled out in mid- to late September.
UPC sends letters confirming judicial appointments
According to JUVE Patent information, the UPC Administrative Committee has begun the process of informing judicial candidates of their success. Several candidates have received letters confirming their ascension to the court's judicial system. Unsuccessful candidates are also being informed. A source has said that the letters were sent out last Friday, although JUVE Patent cannot confirm the number of candidates contacted. The committee will make the list public once all candidates have accepted and undergone an obligatory medical.
German Constitutional Court formally ends UPC case
The Federal Constitutional Court has now formally dismissed the second constitutional complaint lodged by Düsseldorf lawyer Björn Ingve Stjerna and two unknown companies. The court announced the development in the two main trials regarding the complaint. The move is more of a formality, as the German Constitutional Court already rejected applications filed by the plaintiffs for an interim injunction against the ratification of the Unified Patent Court in July 2021 (case IDs: 2 BvR 2216/20 and 2 BvR 2217/20). The dismissal a year ago cleared the way for Germany's ratification of the UPC laws and the resuming of preparations for the court's launch. The Federal Constitutional Court's reasoning states - unsurprisingly - that the second constitutional complaint was unsuccessful for the same reasons as in the urgent decision. On the other hand, the first constitutional complaint filed by Stjerna was successful and blocked German ratification in 2020.
Milan now top candidate for UPC central division as The Hague drops out
The Hague has officially dropped out of the race to host the former London UPC central division, leaving Milan as the only contender. A spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy told Managing IP that the government had considered The Hague as a potential candidate for the UPC’s central division but ultimately chose not to pursue the bid.
In a report authored by the city‘s local government and the Dutch branch of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, it was estimated that the central division seat would bring €191 million into The Hague each year. This now leaves Milan as the only frontrunner after the Italian government originally fielded the city for the central division back in 2020. The division will focus on pharmaceutical litigation. Meanwhile, Ljubljana and Lisbon will host the UPC’s Patent Mediation and Arbitration centre.
UPC website publishes amended Rules of Procedure
Following its 8 July meeting in Luxembourg, the Administrative Committee of the UPC has published its amended Rules of Procedure. While the committee proposed several updates to the overall document, perhaps most striking is its changes to the rules around opting out for patent proprietors and applicants. For example, it has included a totally new rule in Rule 5 A, entitled ‘Application to remove an unauthorised application to opt out or unauthorised withdrawal of an opt-out.’ In the interest of transparency, the document also provides explanatory notes on the developments, for example regarding 5 A, ‘This new rule determines how the Court has to deal with an unauthorized application to opt out or an unauthorized withdrawal of an opt-out (sic).’ The amended rules make concessions towards the much-debated issue of transparency and public access to judgments, as well as to the application of video conferencing in UPC proceedings. Much is also concerned with procedural issues, such as compliance with certain regulations laid out under the UPCA. The website also contains other documents from the 8 July meeting, for example amendments to service and staff regulations, decisions for the set-up of local and regional divisions, and information on fees.
UPC Administrative Committee publishes outcomes of 8 July meeting
The UPC’s Administrative Committee has today published a general outline of the outcome of its meeting on 8 July 2022, which much of the patent community is awaiting with interest. A statement on the UPC website indicates that, among its decisions, the committee confirmed the setting-up of local and regional divisions of the Court of First Instance; adopted the Court’s Rules of Procedure and its Table of Fees, as well as its regulations on duty travel; adopted a medical and social security plan, pension scheme and internal tax of the UPC; and was presented with a recommended list of UPC judicial candidates. It confirms the Administrative Committee will decide the latter before the official summer break in August. According to the website, following efficient adoption of the measures by the UPC member states, it is very likely the UPC will start in early 2023.
Ibec urges Irish government to confirm UPC ratification timetable
The group representing Irish business, Ibec, has called on Ireland’s government to urgently set out a timetable for Ireland’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement. Appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ibec said that “a failure to urgently act risks seeing Ireland miss out substantial opportunities for economic growth.” Last month, Ireland’s government committed to holding a referendum on participation in the UPC, although this will not take place before 2023 or 2024 at the latest. In a statement to the committee, Ibec Corporate IP Group chair Naoise Gaffney said, “An attractive and timely-established Local Division in Dublin will support the further expansion of the patent-intensive sectors across the country… This is expected to contribute at least €415m or 0.13% in GDP growth per annum. It could rise to as much as €1.663bn or 0.5% in GDP growth. There will also be increased expenditure and employment in legal, professional, and other technical advisory services.”
Administrative Committee confirms final Rules of Procedure
Today, the UPC Administrative Council met to finalise the court’s Rules of Procedure, taking into account amendments suggested by the European Commission. According to JUVE Patent sources, the committee approved the amended rules, which will be implemented from 1 September 2022. On 8 July, the committee is also deliberating on which judges will preside over cases at the Unified Patent Court. However, this information is not likely to be confirmed until August.
Ireland’s government commits to UPC referendum
In an announcement published by the country’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the government of Ireland has reaffirmed its commitment to holding a public referendum on participation in the Unified Patent Court. If it goes ahead, which is not likely to be until 2023 or 2024 at the latest, it will allow the UPC to create a local division in the Irish capital of Dublin.
UPC sets date to begin deciding on judges
From 8 July, the UPC Administrative Committee will begin deciding on the supranational court’s 90-strong judicial bench. Following calls in 2016 and 2019 for legal and technical judges, the Advisory Committee received over 1000 applications, eventually inviting 170 to interview with the view to appoint 90. The committee breaks this down into five full-time and 35 part-time legally-qualified judges, as well as 50 part-time technically-qualified judges. For each position, the Advisory Committee made two recommendations.
UPC Advisory Committee begins judges’ interviews
The UPC Advisory Committee has begun the interview process for its judicial bench, which according to a press release will continue until the end of May. Once the interviews have been conducted, the committee will provide its recommendations to the Administrative Committee. In the current timeline, the latter committee will appoint the UPC judges before the summer break begins in July. The committee is also working on the procurement of a medical and social security plan, while also finalising the UPC IT system – long a point of discussion for its potential users. Importantly, this also includes a case management system. According to the Advisory Committee, it is also finalising corporate functions and developing a new website. It is expected that the court will begin operation in late 2022 or early 2023.