European Judges' Forum 2023
From left to right: Carl Josefsson, President, EPO Boards of Appeal; António Campinos, President, EPO; Florence Butin, President, UPC Court of First Instance; Robin Jacob, President, IPJA; Margot Fröhlinger, Guest of Honour and former EPO Principal Director for Unitary Patent, European and International Legal Affairs; Klaus Grabinski, President, UPC Court of Appeal; Sture Rygaard, President, EPLAW.
The Intellectual Property Judges Association (IPJA) and the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) in co-operation with the EPO Academy held the annual European Judges’ Forum on 20 and 21 October in Venice, Italy. This year's programme saw the architects of the new Unitary Patent system, and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) in particular, convene to take stock of the first few months since the UPC entered into operation on 1 June. In attendance were senior UPC and national judges, leading patent litigators and EPO experts, as well as members of the EPO’s Boards of Appeal.
In his opening address, EPO President António Campinos paid tribute to the forum’s important role over the years in bringing the complete Unitary Patent Package to fruition. He also shared the EPO’s views on the proposed EU Regulation on standard essential patents (SEPs) and underlined the need to duly reflect the role of the UPC, and particularly its Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre (PMAC), in resolving disputes, including those relating to SEPs. The PMAC, anticipated to become Europe’s most competent alternative dispute resolution body for patents, is expected to offer parties from all EU Member States, and the rest of the world, services for patent disputes going beyond the UPC’s jurisdiction.
Given the high demand for Unitary Patents from Europe, the US and Asia, with some 12 000 requests received and more than 11 400 registrations for unitary effect, the importance of exchanges at this year’s forum is clear. Further topics of discussion during the two-day programme included plausibility, equivalence, litigation of supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) and the creation of a common SPC system, as well as the interplay between UPC, national and EPO proceedings.