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Judges for the Unified Patent Court (UPC) appointed


The UPC has announced the appointment of 85 judges. The timing of this announcement is in line with the recently published implementation road map, and so at least for now, the 1 April 2023 start date for the UPC appears to be on track.

The appointed judges include seven legally qualified judges of the Court of Appeal, including Klaus Grabinski who will be the President of the Court of Appeal.   The selected judges are fairly diverse: of the seven judges of the Court of Appeal, two are Dutch, one is French, two are German (including the President), one is Italian and one is Swedish.  Five of the seven judges are women.

French judge Florence Butin will be the President of the Court of First Instance, and will be one of the legally qualified judges at the Seat of the central division in Paris, along with a German, an Italian, and a Bulgarian judge, as well as a further judge yet to be announced.  Only two judges have been announced for the Section of the central division in Munich, with one role yet to be filled.

Appeals will be heard by five judges, including three of the above-mentioned seven legally qualified judges, and two technically qualified judges.  The technically qualified judges have been appointed according to their field of technology, which are: Biotechnology; Chemistry and Pharmaceutics; Electricity; Mechanical Engineers; and Physics. There are 51 technically qualified judges, who come from Germany, France, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden. The remaining judges are appointed as judges of the various local or regional divisions.

The majority of the appointed UPC judges appears to have extensive experience in patent matters in national jurisdictions.  These appointments are therefore likely to allay some fears regarding the unpredictability of decisions by the UPC and it can be expected that many of the appointed judges will be able to draw from extensive experience when making decisions. 

Before the central division, cases will normally be heard by two legally qualified judges and one technically qualified judge.  Before a local or regional division, cases will normally be heard by three legally qualified judges, with technically qualified judges included only if requested. 

All panels of judges hearing cases in the Court of First Instance and in the Court of Appeal will have a multinational composition.

Many German and Dutch judges have been appointed, along with French and Italian judges, so it may be expected that the approach taken in these countries to various patent issues may shape future UPC decisions.  It is notable that there are more judges appointed to the Seat of the central division in Paris than to the Section of the central division in Munich.  This has prompted some speculation that the life sciences cases which were going to be heard in London before Brexit may be mostly heard in Paris. We will continue to monitor any UPC related developments.  As previously reported here, our European Patent Attorneys will be competent to act before the UPC and will be happy to assist with any UPC related queries or applications for opting out.

This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.

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