18 June 2012

London bid to host Unified Patent Court trimmed down as D-Day (or rather "Jour J") is Approaching

British IP lawyers lobbying to bring the Japanese IP High Court home to London. 
Joff Wild, chief editor of  renowned London-based IP strategist's periodical IAM magazine considering himself a prod Brit has already previously expressed that, when it comes to the UPC seat, his "sympathies are with the Germans". Now he again explains why London should not be the home of an EU patent court and clearly pleaded for Munich ("makes the most sense") and for Paris and even The Hague, the latter having entered only recently the race for the seat of the Central Division - the first instance of the future Unified EU Patent Court. Mr Wild basically concluded that  
London offers nothing that the other candidate cities do not offer, while its drawbacks are far greater than those presented by Munich, Paris or the Hague. The UK government should not have entered the race in the first place; it should withdraw now. But if it does not, other member states should not consider the UK capital. There are far better alternatives elsewhere.
Besides a number of rather structural factors (comparably few potential UK court users, too expensive, peripheral location, etc.), the probably most persuasive argument is that
UK government and representative IP organisations have shown little inclination to do any of the heavy lifting. [...]. The British government and representative organisations only seem to have got involved now that money is at stake.
This is exactly the feeling that at least German IP professional have about the London bit, as the British capital became a candidate city rather late and only after UK legal professionals explained the economical implications involved to their Prime Minister. It did not come as a surprise that the British law gazette reminded David Cameron that "the UK legal sector could lose almost £3bn a year if the proposed new European central patents court is not based in London" only shortly before the Competitiveness Council meeting on 30/31 May 2012 (see here)

such remarks will not anymore be heard by the European Council (EU Heads of Government) who will attend to this matter on 28/29 June 2012 (see here) - provided the Greek elections, the Spanish banking crisis and the concerns about Italy leave some room for discussing other matters - as diplomats expect that "[a] decision on the location of the court will be part of a high-level political deal that will have little to do with patents" (see here).

In this connection we pointed on our ksnh::law blog ("Final Showdown Is Nigh") to Document 10059/12 dated May 24, 2012, addressing COREPER 1 and suggesting a way forward for a political agreement of the creation of a Unified Patent Court, as well as to an AFP is report indicating that at tomorrow's COREPER meeting (19 June 2012), EU president Herman Van Rompuy might table a final proposal in preparation for the European Summit to be held at the end of this month. This proposal might indicate the President's favourite UPC seat and the political and/or financial compensations he expects of the respective member state in return.

Attached to Document 10059/12 is a Joint Statement from the Danish Presidency and the (incoming) Cypriot Presidency, sketching the political process up to the 1st of April 2014, when the system should be ready for the first registration of a European patent with unitary effect.

It is so impressive that the EU administration did not yet loose its idealism and fine sense of humour despite of all those disasters that recently broke in over Europe. This attitude will surely help to restart Unified Europe just like the mythological greek bird of Phoenix (not to be confused with Ikarus).

(Photo 2011 by Richard of England via Flickr under a CC license)