The European Judges' Forum took place from 21 to 22 October in Venice. The conference is a high-level platform for the most experienced judges and lawyers in patent matters in Europe to discuss the latest developments in European patent law and court procedural practice, such as infringing acts, equivalence, prior use, jurisdiction in cross-border litigation, or treatment of confidential information. Historically, the event plays a vital role in the harmonisation of patent law and practice in Europe.
In 2022, the Forum focused specifically on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC), reflecting on the opportunities associated with harmonising the pathways in Europe's diverse national legal orders.
In his opening speech, EPO President António Campinos addressed the importance of dialogue and co-operation in cultivating coherence within Europe's complex patent system: "The Unitary Patent and the UPC are undoubtedly going to equip us with the tools to embrace an interconnected Europe."
President António Campinos also highlighted the need for efficient, simple, cost-effective, harmonised patent protection to help "keep the wheels of invention turning" in a changing and challenging period. The harmonisation brought by the Unitary Patent system will help enhance accessibility, potentially increase trade and FDI, and strengthen Europe's competitiveness by supplementing and strengthening the existing centralised European patent granting system. The UPC is also set to open the door to increase the effectiveness of dispute settlement and legal certainty in Europe, with a common set of rules for dealing with infringement and validity across Europe.
"The Unitary Patent and UPC have been a long time coming, of course. A marathon, not a sprint - thorough analysis and consideration have superseded speed for us to reach this moment". Campinos placed emphasis on the fact that "it's absolutely certain the UPC is ready to start operations" with Germany set to imminently deposit the ratification instrument.
Experienced judges with the highest level of patent competence have recently been appointed for the UPC - a welcome development which will reinforce users' confidence in the system.
The European Judges' Forum is organised by the European Patent Academy in partnership with the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) and the IP Judges' Association (IPJA). Participation is by invitation only.