|Can Jorna deliver on reform with the EU falling apart around her?
Kerstin Jorna must hope she is on something of a roll.
Less than six months after she took on the job of head of the IP directorate within the European Commission's internal market team, European member states have agreed a deal on a unitary patent package that had eluded them for more than 30 years and which proponents say could slice thousands of dollars off the cost of patenting in Europe.
"While much of the credit for the behind-the-scenes work must go to Margot Fröhlinger, Jorna deserves recognition for overseeing a deal"
While much of the credit for the behind-the-scenes work must go to Margot Fröhlinger, who Jorna succeeded when she left for the European Patent Office earlier this year, Jorna deserves recognition for overseeing a deal. Now she has the tricky task of ensuring it is put into practice.
That job was made far more difficult by members of the European Parliament in early July after they voted to postpone a decision on whether to back the unitary patent package. What rankled them most was a last-minute recommendation by European heads of government to remove controversial articles from the final deal that would have given Europe's highest court jurisdiction over some patent law questions.
If MEPs do finally vote in favour of the deal – with or without Articles 6 to 8 – then Jorna is key to turning it into reality.
"Our objective is to grant the first unitary patent in April 2014 prior to the European parliamentary elections in the May," Jorna told Managing IP last month. "We think that is a real delivery for Europe and a showcase for it after 30 years' work. To do this it would need 13 ratifications by November 2013. That will be our roadmap. Within that, there are a number of key issues that national parliaments will want to know: what the patent fees will be; the cost of the jurisdictional infrastructure; the fees for obtaining a decision from the court; and the rules of procedure."
The decision by MEPs to delay their vote has already put the timetable in doubt, adding more pressure on Jorna to meet the 2014 goal. The next two years could be busy.
But Jorna's job is not all about patents and the EU has a full IP agenda: Jorna's team is due to release proposals for updating the EU's trade mark rules in September and is considering how to make Europe's patchwork of copyright rules fit for a digital era where people can transfer content from medium to medium at the click of a mouse.
Yet Jorna has the misfortune of taking charge of the Commission's IP work just as harmonisation is threatened more than ever before by the realities of Europe's ailing economy and political splintering. The career bureaucrat says she was drawn to working for the EU 20 years ago "very convinced of the idea of Europe and the importance of it to us and to our children". She will need plenty of conviction if she is to encourage politicians to work together to overhaul the EU's IP system.
EU Commission’s Kerstin Jorna defends unitary patent proposal
Kerstin Jorna outlines EU Commission’s trade mark plans
Ten key points about the study
Top 50 homepage
Asia Top 50
Americas Top 50
Europe Top 50