IP Cases & Articles

Unified Patent Court (UPC) judicial recruitment begins

The success of the UPC is likely to be determined by the quality and consistency of its decisions. With that in mind, the recruitment of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) judges, both legal and technical, is a vitally important aspect of the setting up of the new system. The UPC's early decisions will set the tone and are likely to determine how successful the UPC is, in the short to medium term at least.

The process of recruitment has now begun in earnest, with the recent (09 May 2016) start of the formal application process. According to the information published on the UPC website, the UPC is looking for candidates to fill several full and part-time legal judge posts, as well as several part-time technical judge posts, in each case for terms of up to six years.

Candidates for the post of legal judge, whether for the Court of First Instance or Court of Appeal, must be nationals of member states that have signed the UPC Agreement, and in order to be appointed, their member state must also have ratified. They must be proficient in at least one European Patent Office (EPO) language (multiple languages preferred) and possess the relevant qualifications for appointment as a judge in their member state. They also should have extensive patent litigation experience as well as the capacity to work in a multilingual and multinational environment. It is expected that most of the current patent court judges in the major EU jurisdictions will apply, even if for a part time post initially.

Candidates for the post of technical judge must meet the same nationality requirements as for legal judges, and possess the same language skills. They must also have a university degree and proven expertise in a field of technology, as well as proven knowledge of law and procedure in patent litigation. Actual patent litigation experience will be an advantage. Technical judges will serve in both the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal.

The application period will end on 04 July 2016, and there is an interview stage planned for the end of 2016. Successful candidates will be appointed some time in early 2017.