27 June 2012

Unified Patent Court: Rumours running wild before tomorrow's start of EU Summit

As recently reported on ksnh::law under the headline "Munich Dropped Out?", a press report of French journalist Sophie Mosca on Europolitics.info assumes that Munich has lost the race for the seat of the Central Division of the Unified Patent Court, as the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), which is responsible to prepare the decisive   EU Summit (European Council) beginning tomorrow in Brussels, may suggest to award Paris with the seat of the Central Division and give some supportive functions such as the court registry to London:
[...] Munich seems to be out of the running, Paris appears to be the favourite and London could win a few laurels.
As reasons for this ranking the article refers to the fear that a Munich-based court could prefer bification over invalidity counter claims and the fact that Munich already hosts the European Patent Office as the future examination authority of the Unitary Patent. Paris was first suggested by the Polish EU Presidency in December 2011 as a middle road between the liberal German and the strict English approach towards patent infringement and injuctions. Also, two main players in this game, EPO president Benoît Battistelli and EU Competitiveness Commissioner Michel Barnier are French. As Paris appears to be supported by the President of the EU Council Herman Van Romuy, the FT.com assumes that "the smart money appears to be on Paris at the moment".

In our today's posting "On the Eve of the EU Summit" we report on a compromise plan of Herman Van Rompuy - allegedly in agreement with the 'most concerend' EU member states (i.e. the UK, France, Germany) -, as provided via EuropeanVoice:
Earlier this month, Denmark, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, asked Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, to broker a compromise.

Van Rompuy and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister of Denmark, have now written to EU leaders proposing a solution.

They wrote: “After consultation with the most concerned member states, we have prepared an outline for an agreement on the outstanding issues – the location of the seat of the unitary patent court (UPC).”

They propose locating the seat of the court's central division, along with its president's office and registry, in Paris, with other departments based in London and in Munich.

“Given the highly specialised nature and quality standards, we also propose to create specialised clusters in two sections of the UPC, one in London, the other in Munich, which will continue to deal with administrative matters.”
However, it appears to be safe to assume that it will neither be "smart money" nor Van Rompuy's plan that will really decide on the seat issue, but rather the individual agendas of the EU Heads of Government regarding the EU depth crisiswhen they will gather tomorrow in Brussels for holding the EU Summit.

It appears more likely that the seat will be awarded to exacly that EU member state that is prepared to compromise to enable an EU-wide agreement on appropriate (financial) measures for tackeling the EU  crises. In this respect, Munich may still have chances as Angela Merkel is reported to be prepared to rule out eurobonds "as long as I live" since even the Federal States of Germany do not have a communitarization of depts. Exactly this, however, is one cornerstone of the new Grand Plan drawn up by a European presidential Quadrumvirate consisting of EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, EU  Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

In any case, things remain exciting and EU Summits always are big bazaars where you never know what you will come out with.

(Photo 2010 by Kamshots via Flickr under a CC license)