Thursday 19 September 2013

Unified Patent Court: let clarity and love remain

I want to practice before the unified patent court. This is the court that will achieve the ambition of a single court to decide patent disputes for a large portion of the European Union. It needs a procedure that is simple and accessible. While patent litigation is probably inappropriate for litigants in person, it should still not require representatives that need to have studied in big law firms for many years before becoming competent. The rules of procedure need to be clear and understandable. They were put out to public consultation recently. It's a sham and a disaster because this is a network of contradictory, messy, detailed rules that sometimes try to adjust the principles set out in the agreement. It seems that the computer system to support the court is to be developed soon. The designers of that will need to understand how the court is supposed to work. They won't.

Perhaps we should bring in the teaching professions at this stage. How would you teach this system to a student. What are the principles:
  • How are the issues between the parties set out ?
  • Who is in control of the procdure: an efficient court administration or the parties themselves as in the UK?
  • Is it all done on paper?
  • Where do we file?
  • How and when do we exchange documents?
  • What are the fees?
  • Where is everything published online?
These are the things a student needs to know and the IT people designing the support and workflow system need to know them too. Where do we find them in these rules.

It would be interesting to see what professional service process designers think of this. Maybe I should ask my friends at SNOOK ? It certainly seems to me that leaving the parties in control for 6 months before anybody can reign them in means that we have the same old expensive system where most of the early work is wasted as it is in most EPO oppositions.

Obviously this rant is not helpful and the detailed and wondrous AIPPI paper (sent to members on 11 September and not yet on the AIPPI UK site ) is likely to be more in line with the consultation requirements, dealing as it does in great detail with drafting points on many of the 382 rules and they aren't things like "Don't be Ridiculous - this is being funded by taxpayers who don't even provide legal aid any more to their own citizens" in respect of the section on Legal Aid but Article 71 says the Rules of Procedure must deal with it for natural persons so we must, but we hardly need to repeat the Article in Rule 375 do we?

The legal aid we all need is simple easily navigable rules, so we can eliminate the need for a new profession of UPC procedure rules experts at €400 per hour.

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