Brussels, 05 Sep 2002
A working document adopted by the European Commission on 30 August aims to clarify the jurisdictional provisions in a Community patent.
While the Community patent has so far been mainly plagued by disagreements over languages to be used, role of national patent offices and jurisdiction, the Commission working paper deals only with this last issue. One of its main suggestions is that, while the workload of patent disputes between private parties remains small, the system should be centralised in dealing with them.
'A centralised jurisdiction specialised in patent matters will best ensure unity of law and consistency of case law regarding the unitary Community patent,' says the document.
The means of establishing a structure that could deal with such areas include the use of Article 225a of the EC Treaty (Nice) which allows for the setting up of first instance judicial panels, which would deal with cases and be attached to the Court of first instance.
The remit of the court would be to deal with both infringements and the validity of patents. It would ordinarily be composed of two legal members and one technical one. The technical members would be experts in either physics, chemistry or mechanics, and would allow the court to gain a quick understanding of the technical elements of cases. The court would be expected to hear around 120 to 150 cases per year.
While modern technologies would be used to ensure effective communication with parties in Member States, there will be a stage whereby regional chambers in the Member States will be required. This will depend largely on the number of cases and also on ensuring that the central court has been sufficiently established.
To see the working document, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/wdc/ 2002/com2002_0480en01.pdf