6 July 2017
At a conference at the EPO's headquarters in Munich organised by Premier Cercle yesterday, nearly 300 industry representatives, patent attorneys, lawyers, government officials and academics gathered to discuss the latest developments and the way forward in the launch of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC).
In his opening address, EPO President Benoît Battistelli drew a parallel to the early days of the European Patent Office: "Forty years ago, when the new European patent was created, demand quickly exceeded predictions, even sooner than the founding fathers had hoped for. I am sure that the same will be true for the UPC: demand for its services will quickly exceed all our expectations." He expressed his confidence in seeing the opening of the UPC and the first Unitary Patent delivered in early 2018.
The Chairman of the Select Committee, Jérôme Debrulle, and the Chair of the UPC Preparatory Committee's Working Group on HR and Judicial matters, György Kozma, outlined the current state of play in preparations for the implementation of the Unitary Patent package. They underlined that both the Unitary Patent and UPC are legally, operationally and technically ready for the start of the new system, although at the UPC some work still remains to be done. They expressed the hope that the participating Member States would now rapidly undertake all remaining steps for the new system to be launched as soon as possible.
The Rt. Hon. Professor Sir Robin Jacob and Tony Huydecoper, former Advocate-General at the Netherlands Supreme Court and Chair and Member of the Advisory Panel, provided insight into the challenges of the recruitment process for UPC judges. Both speakers emphasised the very high professional quality of the candidates, which gives them confidence that the UPC will prove to be among the best, if not the best patent court in the world.
In the course of the conference, more than 20 panelists addressed the implementation of the UPP, looked at procedural law issues on which the UPC judges will have to develop a common approach, as well as the impact the Unitary Patent package is likely to have on patent portfolios. Speakers included Dr. Klaus Grabinski, German Federal Court of Justice, Thierry Sueur, Vice-President IP at Air Liquide and Chairman of Business Europe's Patent Working Group, and Ruben Bonet, CEO of Fractus, an innovative Spanish SME that was a finalist in 2014 for the European Inventor Award. Among the speakers were also other prominent judges from a number of countries and representatives of businesses, including some of the EPO's top applicants.