Paris, London and Munich may jointly host court seat
By Sophie Mosca | Wednesday 27 June 2012
The President of the European Council, Herman Von Rompuy, is set to propose a compromise on the question of the seat of the central division of the unitary patent court.
During the European summit, on 28 June, he will propose that Paris should host this seat, while certain “administrative” activities would be carried out in London and Munich. According to sources, Munich was temporarily eliminated as a candidate, but is now back in the running (see
It is crucial that Van Rompuy should find a political solution that is acceptable to all three cities in the running, since the failure to reach agreement on this matter over the last few months has blocked the overall package establishing a standard European patent - which businesses have been calling for for over 30 years.
Van Rompuy’s proposal is in line with the compromise that has been on the table since Poland held the Presidency of the EU: Paris would host the headquarters of the new court, which includes courtrooms, judges’ offices and the offices of the president and clerks.
With regard to the particularly specialised nature of certain litigation and to the high standards required, ‘specialist centres’ would be set up in Munich and London. However, a letter from the president of the Council and the Danish Presidency explaining this proposal to member states, and inviting them to support it, is vague on the question of the actual responsibilities that would be devolved to these two ‘centres’.
Would it mean setting up specialised chambers that would deal with certain litigation, since the British and German jurisdictions would have experience in certain, specific areas? Would this de-localisation aim to take account of the particularities of different systems - including the separation in Germany of litigation on the validity of patents from that on infractions (which the new system maintains)?
The vagueness of the description could be deliberate in order to allow for a margin of manoeuvre during negotiations. In addition, the fact that this text underlines that Munich “will continue to deal with administrative questions” could be interpreted as a reminder to Germany that the European Patent Office (EPO) will have a role to play as regards both issuing and contesting the standard patent (and that no more should be asked of it). Or like the fact that extra administrative tasks at the new ‘specialised centre’ in Munich.
Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, Sweden) commented: “The proposed compromise to share the seat of the court among three countries is regrettable, but it will mean that everyone can be involved. However, this should not set a precedent for future decisons on the location of Community agencies and organs - or Europe will become a travelling circus”.