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UPC questions centre on judges and costs – video interviews

Lawyers, economists and in-house counsel identified the quality and training of judges, consistent application of the rules and the costs of using the new system as the key questions regarding the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court that need to be addressed, in a series of video interviews conducted by Managing IP at the recent European Patent Reform Forum in Munich

The short video interviews can all be seen on YouTube. Participants include representatives from Nissan, Nokia, Procter & Gamble and Vodafone

“The main uncertainties include the quality of the judicial panels,” said Tim Powell of Powell Gilbert in London, noting that political considerations may influence appointments. “The training of judges is going to be a really key issue,” he said.

“The second key issue is the cost of the system,” said Powell. Many of the fees still need to be finalised, including the annuity fees for Unitary Patents and the opt-out fee for European patents.

In the same interview, Penny Gilbert of Powell Gilbert predicted that many companies would want to test the new court system, even if they do not use it for their most valuable IP rights: “They’re all quite scared about putting their key crown jewel patents into the system when it’s untested, but equally those companies will want to be part of the system.”

Christian Osterrieth of ROKH IP in Germany said: “The key issue will be to come back to a set of rules established by jurisdiction where we find reliable standards for the future.”

He added that local and regional divisions may refer to national case law developed over the years, which will make it difficult to achieve consistency: ““It will to a large extent depend on the quality of the judges and judgements and how fast the Court of Appeal is.”

He also predicted that judges would “use very carefully” the opportunity to bifurcate validity and infringement, saying: “I’m glad we now have some more flexibility in the system.”

Pierre Véron of Véron & Associés in France expressed optimism that the system will work well, but added: “We need a very good IT system because everything will be electronic, so it must be flawless.” In particular, the IT system needs to accommodate many languages.

“One of the challenges of the UPC is that the case management will be very very fast, for example if you would like to challenge a specific jurisdiction you have to do that within four weeks,” said Véron.

View all the videos on Managing IP’s YouTube channel.

Starting from this month, we will be devoting extra attention to developments and strategies around the Unitary Patent and UPC. In this month’s issue, we introduce the topic with a look at the issues of biggest concern to patent owners, including interviews with Richard Vary of Nokia and EPO President Benoît Battistelli.

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