Fostering judicial coherence in the European Patent System: Lessons from the United States and Japan

Date: 22 January 2019

Venue: Universiteit Antwerpen, Stadscampus - Promotiezaal Grauwzusters, Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Aantwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 5:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: Faculteit Rechten

PhD candidate: Federica Baldan

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Esther van Zimmeren

Short description: PhD defence Federica Baldan - Faculty of Law

After decades of negotiations, in 2012 EU Member States finally agreed to establish a centralised and highly specialised patent judiciary, the Unified Patent Court (UPC). The establishment of the UPC is part of the Unitary Patent Package, which also includes the creation of the unitary patent. Although one of the main aims for the establishment of the UPC is to ensure the consistent interpretation of European patent law, some of the features of the new judicial system have the potential to jeopardise coherence. In fact, once established, the UPC will constitute an additional layer of jurisdiction to the already complex and fragmented European patent system. This will result in a risk of incoherent interpretation of patent law and inconsistent decisions by the different actors involved in the European patent system. Another challenge to judicial coherence relates to the highly specialised nature of the UPC. As the Court will exclusively deal with patent cases, it may develop an isolated body of case law and a pro-patent bias.

The aims of this Ph.D. thesis are threefold. The first aim is to analyse and evaluate the available mechanisms in the current European patent system for safeguarding judicial coherence. The second aim is to investigate the potential challenges to judicial coherence which may arise after the establishment of the UPC. Finally, thanks to a comparative research of the US and the Japanese patent systems, this thesis identifies coherence-enhancing mechanisms and recommendations for the key actors in the new European patent system.

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