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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Last Miles, or still edging along? Patent reform in Europe

Edging along ...
A couple of days ago, in "Edging towards the new regime for Europe: a report on the EPLIT Meeting", the PatLit weblog hosted a report by Katfriend and veteran patent litigator Chris Ryan on last week's meeting in Paris of the still little-known European Patent Litigators Association (EPLIT). This meeting was, according to Chris, an extremely productive and informative one. Following an update by Margot Fröhlinger (Principal Director, EPO) on the unitary patent and unified patent court, the EPLIT meeting turned to issues concerning the draft Rules on the European Patent Litigation Certificate, the unclear and potentially unfair rules on "grandfathering" of practitioners without litigation certificates in the representation of clients before the new courts, the assessment of court fees based on the estimated value of the litigation [to this Kat, such an assessment sounds like a perfect recipe for a headache], the recoverability of costs and the training of technically qualified judges.  There was also a presentation by Max Brunner (Ministry of Justice, France) on the project planning for the establishment of the unified patent court's French Central Division -- an exercise which is apparently most impressive, given the large number of uncertainties and variables that have to be taken into consideration.

... or coming up to the finishing line?
With all these issues preoccupying the minds of European patent litigators, the timing of Premier Cercle's forthcoming conference, "Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court 2015: The Last Miles", could scarcely be better. It takes place on Thursday 16 July and will be held in the eye of the storm, as it were, in the Munich headquarters of the European Patent Office. The speakers  -- apart from Margot Fröhlinger -- include Benoît Battistelli (EPO President), former Court of Justice of the European Union and Irish Supreme Court judge Fidelma Macken, Alain Girardet (Cour de Cassation, France), Cornelis Schüller  (Nestec SA), Ulrike Voß (Oberlandesgericht, Düsseldorf), Robert van Peursem (Advocate-General, Hoge Raad, The Netherlands), Lord Justice Kitchin (Court of Appeal, England and Wales) and Catriona Hammer (Senior IP Counsel, GE Healthcare. It's a good cast, ranging from those whose commitment to the new European patent package is deep and unwavering to those who are less enthusiastic and more critical.

"We have ways of making you talk. Now, how
will the rules on representation work ...?"
This Kat hopes that those who attend will make every effort to squeeze the most out of the speakers in the Q and A sessions, since one of the things he finds frustrating about the whole exercise of re-creating Europe's patent litigation environment is the number of times, when asking questions, the answer is either an "I don't know" or a confidently-delivered mini-speech which can be précised as either "it all depends" or "we won't know till we get there".  If this conference is truly to be "The Last Miles", as the organisers suggest, and not merely "Edging towards the new regime" as the title of the PatLit blogpost suggests, we must pool our collective ignorance and uncertainty and see how much of it can be eliminated by sharing and explaining the bits we do know.

The website for this event (Premier Cercle's third annual event on this theme), with all the usual details of speakers and registration, can be found here. Refreshingly, this event does not cost an arm and a leg: the full registration fee is only 300 euro (which comes down to just 190 euro if you opt for early bird registration by 24 June).

9 comments:

MaxDrei said...

The President of the Court will (I suppose) need to be: French, a judge, patent-savvy, 3 languages, experienced manager of a big business.

Are there yet "soundings" going on? Is there yet a Short List. Can Benoit Battistelli surprise everybody, yet again? Isn't it all very exciting. We patent specialists sure do live in interesting times.

Anonymous said...

EjectorSeat says: Maybe it's the exit that Battistelli needs to disentagle himself from all the brouhaha going on at the EPO... If I were him, I'd announce that the work of pushing through the needed reforms at the EPO was now complete, and that the AC had his full confidence in supervising their implementation according to his plan, so it was time for him to find another role in which he could be... of service.

Anonymous said...

Max, BB's fluency in German is known to be somewhat deficient. Joseph Blatter, on the other hand is proficient in all three languages (probably Italian too, being Swiss) and is a lawyer to boot.

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

A most excellent suggestion!

Blatter could use a little immunity at the present time, not unlike a certain embattled EPO VP...

He would also bring a little "business" sense and teach a lesson to all those who delude themselves in lofty inefficient notions such as the rule of law. BB would probably approve.

One might him even build a local division on the moon, beyond the reach of any these pesky G-men. After all, if you can put a WM in Qatar and a DG3 in Berlin, then anything goes!

MaxDrei said...

And in breaking news late today, the President of Football in France has put out a ringing endorsement of the Mountain Goat, praising his presidential qualities, and asserting that he would certainly vote for him again. France is rooting for you Josef.

Everybody has by now grasped that Herr Blatter speaks French very smoothly, but I had overlooked that he is also a lawyer.

Sepp, get in there. Here is another opportunity for you to exercise, once again, your exquisite persuasive powers as Capo di tutti i Capi.

Anonymous said...

"Refreshingly, this event does not cost an arm and a leg"

The questions are:
- who is charging the fee? The EPO or Premier Cercle?
- if it is a commercial event, why is the EPO lending the room, giving it an official character?
- why would any questions be answered 'officially', if it is not an official event?
- if it is an official event about the establishment of a new public court of the European Union, I would guess that the any member of the public should be welcome without a fee

Jeremy said...

Anonymous @13:04

Premier Cercle are charging the fee. It is quite a common practice for organisations with spare capacity to let out their premises to both commercial and institutional conference organisers and doesn't imply any endorsement. I've twice participated in events at the EPO that had nothing to do with the organisation.

The event isn't "about" the establishment of a new public court and, even if it were, the EPO isn't part of the Unified Patent Court: that's an EU institution, while the EPO is not.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy,
I wonder if entry to the event will include an invitation to see the penthouse suite as well. If not, one might ask what purpose it serves...

Regarding the event not being an EPO event, indeed it should not be. But there is an appearance here by the president with regard to 'his' project. As much as the EU patent is not under his control, his future influence and legacy derives a lot from it. And the current problems of DG3 may not be totally unrelated with his drive to make it a success and his part in gently (?) downgrading the EPO appeal system and allowing the UPC to prosper.

That doesn't mean the EU patent is a bad move - just an admittedly jaundiced view of the non-neutral treatment.

Jeremy said...

@Anonymous at 23:56

You write "But there is an appearance here by the president with regard to 'his' project. As much as the EU patent is not under his control, his future influence and legacy derives a lot from it". I agree that the president has a lot to gain from his appearance -- and that is why he appears in many commercial and official events in the course of the year, whether hosted in the EPO or elsewhere.

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