The appointment of judges for the UPC seems to be well on its way. In fact after approving a list of candidates in July during its 6th meeting, the Preparatory Committee is now in the process of notifying the applicants of their eligibility for becoming a UPC judge and whether or not they would require further patent litigation training.
It is however only a press-selection and candidates will have to submit a formal application if they actually wish to become a judge at the UPC. The formal application process has not yet been made public.
The training centre for judges who will work at the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has opened in Budapest. Launched March 13th, the centre will be based in government offices in the Hungarian capital.
The opening coincided with a two-day conference to discuss the centre, along with the unitary patent and UPC more generally. Zoltán Cséfalvay, minister of state of Hungary’s Ministry for National Economy, said EU member states participating in the unitary patent system had “unanimously” decided that judges should be trained in Budapest. Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office (EPO), in his address welcomed ” another step forward in putting in place a unified patent litigation system for the benefit of inventors and industry in Europe”. Paul van Beukering, Chairman of the UPC Preparatory Committee, on the other hand highlighted the crucial role of the UPC trained judges: “If we want the Unified Patent Court to be amongst the best patent courts in the world, we need the best judges we can get. They are the most important asset of the court. To achieve that, training is essential.”
A list of prospective judges has been drawn up, but none has been selected yet.
The Unified Patent Court website has published pictures of the training centre.
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)
On September 20th 2013 the Preparatory Committee launched a call for expression of interest for legally as well as technically qualified judges for the UPC. One of the priorities identified in the Preparatory Committee roadmap is in fact to contribute to the nomination process of the first group of candidate judges and to ensure the organisation of the training of candidate judges in the preparatory phase. The closing date is 15 November 20.
For more information see the UPC website.