|Yet another IP judge called Richard :|
Richard Hacon - the new IPEC judge
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Richard David Hacon (11 South Square) as the next judge of the recently re-named Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) formerly known as the Patents County Court (PCC).
Hacon, who was called to the Bar in 1979 after earning a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology from the University of Leeds, has big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Mr Justice Birss, was elevated to the High Court in May of this year, leaving a 3-year legacy of high quality decisions (whether you agree with them or not) and proactive case management hearings in his wake.
Since May, while the Judicial Appointments Commission were busy reviewing the applications to fill Mr Justice Birss' shoes, the court has been staffed with Recorders and Special Guest judges, including, this term, Mr Justice Arnold. This sitting rota is likely to continue for the next few weeks as Hacon's appointment will not take effect until Tuesday, 3 December 2013.
Hacon is a bit of an unknown entity to the AmeriKat. Having examined his CV, most of his recent reported cases revolve around the world of soft IP. His recent cases include Community trade marks, registered design and enforcement issues in Starbucks (HK) Ltd v British Sky Broadcasting plc and Samsung Electronics (UK) Ltd v Apple Inc (and here). Around this time last year he found himself in the Court of Appeal in Hollister Inc v Medik Ostomy Supplies Ltd - an account of profits case that reversed His Honour Judge Birss QC's (as he then was) decision (see AmeriKat's report on the appeal here). The 2014 edition of Chambers & Partners states that "...he has a solid commercial appreciation of what's involved in a case". But, unlike his predecessors, Hacon has never taken silk, something that Alan Johnson of Bristows is reported in the World Intellectual Property Review as saying he "never understood".
The AmeriKat understands from various unconfirmed but trustworthy reports, that the selection committee was looking for a candidate who had experience in soft IP - of which cases historically populated the PCC - but who also had a strong patent law background. This added string to the new judge's bow apparently shrunk an already small candidate pool ["What do you expect", sneers Merpel, "when most IP QCs earn a magnitude more than the advertised salary of £140,000?"]. Hacon, with willingness, a scientific background and no stranger to the Patents Court or the EPO (where he has represented Biogen, Genentech and Novartis), quickly became the heir apparent for the empty post.
Hacon has his work cut out for him, of course. With so many practitioners and users of the PCC applauding Mr Justice Birss for "turning the Court around", he will undoubtedly be faced with a higher standard of continuing and improving the reputation of the court as being an efficient, user-friendly and less expensive alternative to enforcing intellectual property rights than that of his predecessor. But because his clients have spanned the entire spectrum of litigants - from the Goliaths to the Davids - all of whom who have been eagerly using the new and improved court, Hacon is expected to quickly make himself at home.
The AmeriKat and the members of the IPKat team wish Richard the best of luck in his new role and look forward to pawing at his first decision in the new IPEC.