The Presidency of the Council of the European Union published on November 18th 2013 a letter addressed to the Council of the European Union on the European Patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court. In this letter it highlights the steps necessary for the implementation of the Unitary patent and unified patent court, describes those that are already in place and those that are planned in the next few months until early 2015 when the Preparatory Committee envisages an entry into operation of the UPC.
It articulated this letter around different sections and notably the “Progress in the different working areas” section, which identifies the main advances. For the legal framework the Presidency hence notes that the first stage of the Consultation about the Rules of Procedure launched by the Preparatory Committee had received over 100 submission that are now analysed in preparation of the second phase of the consultation in which the Legal Working Group will examine the comments including a public hearing to be held in the beginning of next year. The presidency indicates that on the basis of a revised draft prepared by the Legal Working Group the Committee aims to adopt the Rules of Procedure before summer 2014. Further more it lists other projects that will also be part of the UPC such as an arbitration and mediation centre a patent attorneys’ litigation certificate, a schedule of court fees and recoverable costs, rules governing the Registry and the registrar’s service, the rules on legal aid and the rules of the Advisory, Budget and Administrative Committees.
Another section of particular interest is the Human Resources and Training section, which explains how the UPC judges are being selected and will be trained. The Preparatory Committee launched in September 2013 a pre-selection procedure calling for the expression of interest of candidates, both on a part-time and a full-time basis, for legally qualified and technically qualified judges for the future UPC. Candidates had to submit their expression of interest by the 15 November to the chair of the Preparatory Committee. As explained by the Presidency, “the aim of the pre-selection procedure is to draw up a provisional list of suitable candidates, allowing the candidates if necessary to participate in the training program that is to be established for the preparatory phase”. It will thus ensure that a field of eligible candidates will be available for the formal appointment procedure to be launched subsequently. The Presidency further explains in broad terms what training the UPC judges will receive:
“The training for legally qualified judges will consist of advanced courses in patent law and patent litigation, possibly combined with mock-trials and internships at patent courts in countries experienced in patent litigation, as well as courses on the UPC Agreement and the Rules of Procedure. For technically qualified judges training will consist of basic concepts of patent law relating in particular to validity and basic concepts of civil procedure, as well as training on the UPC Agreement and the Rules of Procedure. Language training for both legally and technically qualified judges should allow judges to work on and participate in deliberations on a patent case in at least one language which is not their mother tongue.” (p.12)