ComPat051103En

Judges as activists for an European Patent Court

[ Community Patent | Patent examination reform | News ]


According to press reports some European judges started partisan campaigning on institutional patent reform drawn from the “European patent litigation agreement” (EPLA) from 1999. Their aim is to create a single European Patent Court and enforce an English language policy. This remarkable move which reflects a unusual understanding of their institutional role was put forward in Venice during a meeting of the European Patent Lawyers association.

Legal week writes:

According to the same article the judges criticize a Commission's proposal:

Lord Justice Jakob acknowledges that this move is possibly exceeding the institutional role of judges:

As a representative body of the SME industry in the field of software patents FFII is likely not to "run with it". FFII currently investigates the implications of the Community Patent regarding the unresolved issue of software patents and has serious objections against leaving institutional reform to the patent community. The previous European Community action for a community patent stalled May 18 2004 due to language reasons in the European Council of Ministers. The very same day a political agreement on the uncommon position regarding the software patents directive was reached which forced Parliament later to trash the directive in its second reading. Strong institutional resistance of the patent system to the legislator's will including moves such as EPO-lobbying of the European Parliament demonstrated an unbalance in the framework for European patent policy. Again the EPO here underlines its deliberate understanding of its institutional role:

EPO EPLA process and the judges proposal (coke or pepsi?)

The judges proposal also targets to narrow down the official languages of the European Patent System to English as a default language in the proceedings and suggests to give German and French a minor role. Contrary FFII is committed to the promotion of the German language (and other native languages) by its statutes. An EPO page on the stalled EPLA process in the name of 'patent reform' can be found on the EPO web. The current EPLA statute draft 2004-02-16 however says:

and even more intresting:

The Working groups declared in late 2003 that their proposal

Regardless whether the judges proposal or the EPO EPLA proposal would get implemented instead of a Commission's draft or not: Both are drafts designed by stakeholders from the patent system for themselves which inherently neglect the principle of a political mandate over patent policy and institutional design. Experience shows that self-governance of the European patent system leads to institutional abuse and unbalance and does not serve the interests of the business community. FFII currently develops own reform proposals for the EPO and more cost efficient alternatives to the use of the patent system.

Press reports

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