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Conference with mock trial in the Nordic–Baltic regional division of the Unified Patent Court
On Thursday 11 February 2016, the Ministry of Justice, the Swedish Bar Association and the Swedish Courts held a conference on the Nordic–Baltic regional division of the European Unified Patent Court. Work is in progress to prepare and establish the regional division in Stockholm.
The purpose of the conference was to provide information about the current state of play in the implementation of the unified patent system and to demonstrate how a trial in the regional division will be conducted. The mock trial took up a case between two parties, one claiming patent infringement concerning medical equipment and the other bringing a counter-claim of invalidity.
The conference was opened by Catharina Espmark, State Secretary to Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson. Ms Espmark explained that the Unified Patent Court will simplify legal proceedings, reduce legal costs and improve legal certainty. Given the positive effects the patent reform is expected to have for the European single market, the Government has made the reform a priority and is active in the preparatory work.
The speakers included Alexander Ramsay, Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court, and Louise Petrelius, Swedish representative on the Preparatory Committee, both from the Ministry of Justice.
The Committee aims to complete its preparations by mid-2016. If the Member States do as they are supposed to and fast-track their ratification processes, provisional application of the Court Agreement can begin as early as this autumn. Only four more countries need to ratify the Court Agreement before the new patent system can begin to apply. The conference brought together around 130 participants from many different organisations and companies from ten different countries.
The conference was moderated by Stefan Johansson from Stockholm District Court, and Carl Josefsson from the Svea Court of Appeal led the concluding discussion and question-and-answer session. Other participants included Kevin Mooney, who chaired the committee that drafted the Court's rules of procedure, British judge David Kitchin, and two Swedish judges from Stockholm District Court, Tomas Norström and Rune Näsman.
Unitary patent system in 2017
At the beginning of 2017, it will be possible to obtain a unitary patent that will have protection in almost the entire EU. At the same time, a common Unified Patent Court will be established in Europe, with regional and local divisions in the Member States.
Of the 28 EU Member States, 26 are participating in the system. Poland has joined the patent protection system but has not signed the Court Agreement. Croatia is expected to join. Spain has opted to remain outside.
For the unitary patent protection to take effect, the Court Agreement must enter into force. This will happen when thirteen Member States, including Germany, the UK and France, have ratified it. So far, nine countries, including France, have signed. More countries are expected to ratify the Agreement during the spring.
Unified Patent Court with local and regional divisions
The Unified Patent Court’s first instance will consist of a central division in Paris, with sections in London and Munich, as well as local and regional divisions in the Member States. The Court of Appeal will have its seat in Luxembourg.
Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are creating a Nordic–Baltic regional division in Stockholm, which will use English as the only language of proceedings. Preparations are under way and the seat will share the premises of the Stockholm City Court. Finland and Denmark have opted to establish local Finnish and Danish divisions of the Unified Patent Court.