The IPKat's learned colleague Axel Horns (IP::JUR) posted an item last week that does not seem to have generated the degree of attention it deserves. Axel's item begins as follows:
"Draft Agreement on the European Union Patent JudiciaryThe IPKat has taken a quick look at the Draft Agreement and notes the following highlights:
The EU Council has published Document 9124/08 issued by the Slovenian EU Presidency and addressing the Working Party on Intellectual Property (Patents). The title of the Document is Draft Agreement on the European Union Patent Judiciary.The revised Presidency working document contains a Draft Agreement on the European Union Patent Judiciary for discussion at the meetings of the Intellectual Property (Patents) Working Party on 28 May and 11 June 2008. The revised version takes account of the discussions in the Working Party on 2, 8 and 25 April 2008 as well as of comments and observations received from stakeholders. Furthermore, it also comprises two lists of issues to be included respectively in the Statute of the European Union Patent Judiciary and in the Rules of Procedure, which need to be developed at a later stage".
So now we know what the Court's bread-and-butter subject matter will be, and that we can expect a Council Regulation on the Community patent in the foreseeable future (no shock there).
"Article 3: Scope of Application
This Agreement shall apply to:
(a) any Community patent;
(b) any supplementary protection certificate issued for a Community patent;
(c) compulsory licenses in accordance with Article  of Council Regulation (EC) No … on the Community patent;
(d) any European patent which was granted and not yet expired at the date referred to in Article 60 or was granted after that date, without prejudice to Article 58; and
(e) any application for a patent which is pending at the date referred to in Article 60 or filed after that date".
"Article 10: Eligibility criteriaAnd now for something completely different -- training for the patent judiciary:
(1) The Court shall comprise both legally and technically qualified Judges. Legally qualified Judges shall be qualified for judicial functions at the national level [this doesn't specify experience or qualification to deal with IP cases -- but see below]. Technically qualified Judges shall have a university degree in a field of technology.
(2) Judges shall ensure the highest standards of competence in the field of patent litigation [the IPKat wonders how this might be achieved]. They shall have adequate knowledge of civil law and a proven experience in patent litigation [this should exclude judges from most of the EU's 27 countries, then]".
Passing over the new unified substantive law on patent infringement, which looks as though it was inserted as an afterthought, let's take a look at the professions:
"Article 14: Training Framework
(1) A training framework for Judges shall be set up in order to improve and increase available patent litigation expertise and to ensure a broad geographic distribution of such specific knowledge and experience [so we might get Estonian judges sitting in Amsterdam?].
Right: wasting no time--the Germans are training their next generation of European patent judges from the age of 11
(2) The training framework shall in particular focus on:
(a) internships in patent divisions having a substantial number of patent litigation cases;
(b) improvement of language skills [the IPKat has a few suggestions for one or two British judges who might want to brush up their basic English ...];
(c) technical aspects of patent law;
(d) the dissemination of knowledge and experience on civil procedures for technically qualified Judges; and
(e) the preparation of candidate-Judges.
(3) The training framework will provide for continuous training. Regular meetings will be organized between all Judges of the Court in order to discuss developments in patent law and ensure consistency of jurisprudence [Consistency? Is this designed to deter anyone from the EPO?]".
There's lots more where all this comes from, dealing with languages, appeals, provisional and final relief, stays -- as a sop to the common lawyers and some Scandinavians -- and even allowing judges to deliver their own separate judgments, whether dissenting from the majority or concurring with it.
"Article 28: Representation
(1) The parties shall be represented by lawyers authorized to practise before a court of a Contracting Party who may be assisted by a European Patent Attorney, who is a national of a Contracting Party entitled to act as professional representative before the European Patent Office (hereafter: European Patent Attorney), and/or by patent attorneys with proven patent litigation experience.
Left: European Union Litigation Certificates are much-sought-after. Even a slightly used one can still fetch a tidy sum on eBay ...
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph 1, European Patent Attorneys and patent attorneys with proven patent litigation experience [now, the IPKat would love to know what this means and how it is to be proved] who are in possession of a European Union Litigation Certificate [A WHAT? And where might one obtain such a thing? At what expense? And how long will it take? Who will pay - apart from the clients, that is?] may represent the parties in actions for revocation of a patent before the central division.
(3) Representatives of the parties and their assistants shall enjoy [good choice of words!] the rights and immunities necessary to the independent exercise of their duties.
(4) Representatives of the parties and their assistants shall be obliged not to misrepresent cases or facts before the Court either knowingly or with good reasons to know [how very different from Community trade mark proceedings, where in some cases one wonders if there isn't a duty to do so]".
IPKat is curious to know what his readers think about this: he doesn't think they'll be terribly happy. Merpel says, come now, you're just over-dramatising. And isn't this a neat way to narrow the scope for patent attorneys to litigate and make sure the work is safe and sound in the hands of real lawyers, like in Germany?