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IP specialist Kitchin to retire from UK Supreme Court

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Kitchin is to hear the DABUS case before stepping down on September 29 this year

Lord Justice David Kitchin will retire from the UK Supreme Court in September this year, it was confirmed today, February 1.

Kitchin, who was appointed in October 2018, is the only intellectual property specialist serving at the UK’s top court.

“It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to serve as a full-time justice of the court.

“This is the right time for me to step down and it will give me an opportunity to spend more time with my family and to pursue other interests,” Kitchin said.

It is expected that the lord chancellor will convene an independent selection commission to fill the vacancy.

A former barrister, Kitchin became a Queen’s counsel in 1994. His practice covered all aspects of IP including patents, trademarks, copyright, designs, and trade secrets.

Since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the term Queen’s counsel has been replaced by King’s counsel to reflect the fact that King Charles III is the new British monarch.

But the judge is unlikely to slip quietly into the night.

Kitchin will hear at least one major IP case this year – Thaler v Comptroller-general of patents, designs and trademarks, better known as the DABUS case.

The DABUS dispute concerns whether an artificial intelligence tool of the same name can be named as an inventor on a patent application.

Speaking to Managing IP in 2019, Kitchin said all of the judges played an active role in shaping the court’s IP decisions.

“This can be extremely valuable because they can bring an insight to bear on that specialism that those working in it haven’t got,” he said in the interview.

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