Following the retirement of Lord Justice Robin Jacob in April, the Lord Chancellor did not arrange an immediate replacement from within the ranks of the judges of the Chancery Division, and particularly from those who have served on the Patents Court.
As expected however, it has now been announced that Mr Justice David Kitchin is to be promoted in October. In addition, Mr Justice Kim Lewison, a general Chancery Judge who has heard patent cases, is going up as well. This will make the Court of Appeal as strong in judges with patent experience as it probably has ever been, because Lord David Neuberger is also there. Lord Neuberger heard patent cases when he was a First Instance Judge (notably Amgen v Boehringer Mannheim), and in the Court of Appeal, and also during the time he was in the House of Lords. Even now, as Master of the Rolls – the President of the Court of Appeal – he was back in the Supreme Court (as it now is) in July as a member of the panel which heard Human Genome Sciences Inc v Eli Lilly and Company.
There is no news as to who may be appointed to join Mr Justices Floyd and Arnold in the Patents Court. Judge Colin Birss, appointed to the Patents County Court in October 2010, has been brought over to sit as a Patents Court Judge when neither of the other two Judges has been available. It must be at least a possibility that, if he continues to do well, he will be promoted earlier than was originally thought to be a specialist patents member of the Chancery Division of the High Court.