How does one construct a new European Patent Court?
A group of countries can sign a treaty to create a new international institution. So, how about a new institution that gets the power of life and death over Europe's businesses through patent law?
Architecture of EPLA
EPLA is an EPO plan to create a new patent-only court system. Very roughly, this is the way EPLA would work:
- The countries that have signed the EPC agree to set-up a new international organisation called the European Patent Judiciary (EPJ).
- The EPJ consists of a European patent court (multiple courts of first instance, and a court of appeal), and an Administrative Council.
- The Administrative Council is composed of representatives of the EPC countries. That is, the same patent officials who run the EPO.
- The Administrative Council runs the Court, appoints judges (for fixed terms, not life), and manages budgets.
- The European Patent Court would take over jurisdiction from national courts over a period of years.
EPLA is mainly designed to make life easier for large patent owners who want to litigate. It's marketed as being cheaper and more effective than the current system of national courts. In fact EPLA is only cheaper for large firms that want to litigate in many national courts. In recent price comparisons, the Commission has compared EPLA with the UK system, the most costly in Europe.