17 March 2014 - No comments »
Last week in Budapest, I had the pleasure of taking part in the opening of the newly established Training Centre for judges of the Unified Patent Court. This is the first concrete embodiment of the UPC project, which comprises three elements: the Court, the training service and the arbitration and mediation centre. The Hungarian authorities are to be congratulated on their swift action to enable the creation of the Centre, barely a year after the signing of the founding treaty. Those who attended the inauguration were greatly impressed by the facilities and the location, in a beautiful historic building in the heart of the Hungarian capital.
The Centre will offer excellent training conditions for the future judges and candidates. This is a vital consideration, remembering that the professional expertise and experience of the UPC judges, whether legal or technical, have been a key priority for all the parties involved in devising the arrangements for the new specialised jurisdiction. Looking at the initial feedback after assessment of the 1 300 expressions of interest received by the Preparatory Committee, there is every reason to be confident that the best possible candidates in Europe will be selected.
Many of those attending the opening have long been active in this process, especially through the regular gatherings such as the European Patent Judges’ Symposium and the Venice Judges’ Forum. In the past, meetings of patent judges have been a practical interim alternative to the creation of a common patent court, which has taken so long to materialise. These efforts to foster the development of a truly European approach among patent judges have laid the ground on which the new Training Centre in Budapest can now flourish. The EPO, which has strongly supported this undertaking from the outset, will continue to provide its technical expertise.
Some further good news regarding the UPC emerged last week. Using the possibility provided by Article 7(5) of the Agreement on the UPC, four countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden – have agreed to set up a regional division acting as a UPC first instance court. Meanwhile, in the UK, the House of Commons has approved the ratification of the Agreement, and the House of Lords will shortly be following suit. Finally, on 4 March, the EU Council endorsed the compromise agreement for the revision of the Brussels I Regulation, which can now be put to the vote by the European Parliament.
These combined efforts of governments and public authorities across Europe highlight their commitment to the UPC and represent an important signal to the user community, which is looking forward to rapid implementation of this long-awaited project.