07 November 2006

European Patent Judges agree on rules and procedures for new EU Patent Court

Twenty six patent judges from all over Europe gathered in San Servolo, Italy, for the second time to discuss and decide on rules and procedures for the EPLA court, the first centralized European Patent Court. After meeting for a week all 26 judges agreed and signed a Resolution ("Second Venice Resolution"), approving new rules how to conduct the procedures in this newly to be established EU patent court. The Rules deal with all aspects of patent litigation, from how to start the litigation to case management, the way oral arguments will be heard and which protective measures can be ordered by the court, and much more.

The unanimous vote in favour of Uniform Rules of Proceedings is a striking result, as it is quite a challenge to get Europeans to decide on anything so far reaching as how to litigate under uniform principles. Most of the EU countries have their own rules of procedure which differ substantially. One can imagine how difficult it must have been to agree on rules that could work for all European states that will eventually participate in the EU court.

The judges’ choice seems to be made for an EU patent court modelled after a continental European, rather than the UK judicial system.

Bloomberg cites Kevin Mooney, the President of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), which organized the judges conference:

"What the judges are saying to the politicians is to get on with it. If the
European Commission supports it and if the European Parliament supports it, then
we could see a patent court within three years."
The unity within the judiciary is the more prominent in comparison with the deep divides among politicians, as was reported in our earlier post. It remains to be seen how much “cloud” the judges have over the legislative process. It surely signals a strong support among practitioners and judges that EPLA and the EU patent court is the only way forward or a united patent enforcement system. Now the politicians must move.

For the 11-page, full text of the “Principles Relating to the Rules of Procedure of the European Court”, click here.

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