|Lord Justice Vos|
|Lord Justice Floyd|
In her considerable wisdom, Queen Elizabeth II has today appointed two judges with patent experience to the England & Wales Court of Appeal. Mr Justice Floyd and Mr Justice Vos now become “Lord Justice” and join Lord Justice Kitchin, another IP specialist. Congratulations to both on their elevation. Three things strike me about this.
First, it means Sir Robin Jacob will probably finally be able to concentrate on the excellent work he is doing as a professor at UCL – he retired from the Court last year but had still been sitting in some IP cases. This dual role had the potential to attract controversy, and so it proved; there should be no more concerns on that score.
Second, given the continuing workload of the Patents Court, more patent-specialist judges will have to be appointed to assist Mr Justice Arnold and the other judges who handle less complex cases. I expect HHJ Birss QC must be a strong contender to move, after his good work at the Patents County Court (on which subject look out for a feature and interview in our April issue) – but who would take over from him? Daniel Alexander QC is a name often mentioned, and there are other good candidates – though unfortunately the severe drop in earnings for a top barrister is often a deterrent to joining the bench in the UK.
Third, looking further ahead, speculation is already mounting about who will be the judges in the new unified patent court when (if) it starts work. The UK will almost certainly have a local division, and also has one of the branches of the central division (dealing with pharma cases). UK judges are also likely to be candidates for the Court of Appeal (if they are willing to work in Luxembourg and have the required language proficiency).
If the unified patent court is to work, it needs strong, experienced members. The names mentioned above are all relatively young (by judge standards) and hopefully some of them will be contenders in a few years’ time. Our message to them is: Europe needs you!