Reades of this blog may have noticed that we try to cover the discussion about representation rights of European Patent Attorneys before the new Unified Patent Court. Our recent postings related to this issue may be found here, here, and here.
According to Art. 48 (1) UPCA, all national lawyers of the UPC member states are entitled to represent cases before the UPC, regardless of their knowledge and experience in patent law and practise. Art 48 (2) UPCA grants such individual representation rights also to European Patent Attorneys according to Art 134 EPC, if they have an “appropriate qualification such as a European Patent Litigation Certificate“.
Now a proposal of the Institute of Representatives before the European Patent Office (epi) came to our attention (download) in which criteria for the required “appropriate qualification” and a structure of the European Patent Litigation Certificate are proposed to the UPC Preparatory Committee which is in charge of definig this issue.
Appropriate Qualification: The paper states that an appropriate qualification of a European Patent Attorney (EPA) should include
abilities [...] going beyond the European Qualification Examination [...]. They should, in particular, reflect the necessary and desirable skills and knowledge for representation before the UPC.
A source of such abilities is seen in the
extensive experience acquired as patent attorney in their respective EPC member state, going beyond representation before the Patent Office.
The paper mentiones the following examples for such experiences:
- EPAs already qualified to represent before a court in patent matters in an EPC member state and able to afford evidence of an effective experience of representation before such court.
- EPAs that have successfully completed, before entry into force of the UPC Agreement, one of the courses in patent litigation given by CEIPI, Nottingham and Hagen.
- EPAs with a Bachelor level law degree from a university of an EPC member state.
- EPAs demonstrating extensive practical experience of the conduct of patent litigation in an EPC member state, for example by assisting an authorized representative or a judge before national courts in at least five patent litigation cases and/or having commensurate practical experience of the conduct of opposition procedure before the EPO and the Boards of Appeal.
European Patent Litigation Certificate. For the certificate a modular system is suggested in order to take into account the different levels of legal qualification of national patent attorneys from EPC member states.
In a Core Module the different levels of national education should be ballanced based on an “advanced national patent attorney training”. Such European Patent Attorneys, whose national qualification meets these requirements would then not be required to take this Module. Examples of the issues covered by the Core Moduel are:
- Basic knowledge of the legal principles of civil law, covering common law and continental law,
- Basic knowledge of the “Brussels” EU Regulation and various EU Directives in the IP area (particularly the Directive on Enforcement), EU competition law, International IP law (including the Trips agreement and the Hague Convention on recognition and enforcement of foreign judgements in civil and commercial matters), the European Human Rights Convention,
- Main principles of contract law, IP ownership and company law.
- Organisation and IP related important case law of the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, including preliminary ruling procedure.
- Patent infringement and validity, covering claim analysis, Article 69 EPC, literal/non-literal infringement, contributory infringement, exhaustion, defences against infringement, main case law of the UPC with an emphasis on providing practical strategic advice.
- The Unified Patent Court Agreement and Statute as well as the Rules of Procedure,
- Pre-suit protocols and filing suit,
- Determining jurisdiction, forum shopping,
- Obtaining evidence, seizure procedure (“Saisie”), discovery procedure, other means,
- Actions for Declaration of Non-Infringement, Invalidity, defence and counterclaims,
- Infringement Actions,
- Drafting of briefs, formal and substantial requirements, case management,
- Rights and obligations of Representatives including conduct toward other Representatives, toward the Judges, experts of the Court and witnesses during the procedure,
- Use of experts, experiments and witnesses,
- Enforcement of orders,
- Arbitration and Mediation,
- Sanctions and civil liability,
- Interlocutory injunctions,
- Practical Case Studies and mock trials.
Conclusion. This paper may represent a good basis for the Preparatory Committee for defining the standards of Art. 48 (2) UPCA. It contains a number of different routes for European Patent Attorneys to qualify for individual representation before the Unified Patent Court and, thus, would be good for them. Especially the suggestion that the courses at the University of Nottingham, the Fernhochschule Hagen and the CEIPI in Strasbourg should be equivalent with the new Litigation Certificate would immediately entitle many colleagues to representation. Another option that would entitle many European Patent Attorneys already now for representation is the case book of national litigation and EPO opposition cases.
As to the modular system for obtaining the Certificate, I guess that the education of at least British and German national patent attorneys would be equivalent with what is suggested as Core Module.
We shall wait and see what the Preparatory Committee thinks. But this proposal will not be the end of the story, as it can be expected that lawyer associations such as EPLAW or the UK Law Society will want to have a say in this matter too.
Volker 'Falk' Metzler
European Patent Attorney, German 'Patentanwalt', European Trademark and Design Attorney, Computer Scientist, PhD, IP Blogger, Father of Two, Mountain Enthusiast
The k/s/n/h::law blog
Some of the patent attorneys of the KSNH law firm have joined their efforts to research what is going on in the various branches of IP law and practice in order to keep themselves, their clients as well as interested circles of the public up to date. This blog is intended to present results of such efforts to a wider public.
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- Wiki Edition of Agreement on Unified Patent Cou... on Wiki Edition of Agreement on Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA)
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