In the Unified Patent Court (UPC), parties must be represented – they cannot appear without an appropriately qualified representative. On Thursday 03 September 2015, the UPC Preparatory Committee removed speculation on who may be a qualified representative by approving the qualification routes available for European Patent Attorneys (EPAs) to be able to represent clients before the UPC. In short, the rules will allow the vast majority of UK qualified EPAs to represent clients in the UPC, in addition to UK qualified solicitors and barristers. We welcome this decision.
When it begins, the UPC will be an entirely new patent litigation forum. Its procedures and applicable law derive from multiple influences, including the various different court and legal systems of the participating member states including the UK, as well as the EPC and European Patent Office. It is important to remember that the UPC will be a court, although it will be an entirely new one, and has the potential to attract a huge range of cases, involving many different technologies and legal issues. Some may be comparatively straightforward legally, involving essentially infringement and validity issues only. Others will be much more convoluted, and involve complex issues of law extending beyond patent law and relating to jurisdiction, liability, contract, competition, remedies and evidence, for example. All cases will require highly detailed statements of case (both technically and legally) to be prepared at an early stage of the case.
We believe therefore that having a broad choice and availability of representation for users in the UPC, drawn from across the legal and patent attorney professions, is a good thing.