Einheitspatentsystem: Die Kompetenzreichweite des Mediations- und Schiedszentrums - (Unitary Patent System: What the Patent Mediation and Arbitration Centre Can('t) Decide)
In: GRUR Int, Vol. 67, Issue 1, 2018, pp. 1-11
Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Discussion Paper No. 9
28 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2017 Last revised: 22 Feb 2018
Date Written: November 27, 2017
German Abstract: Das Übereinkommen über ein einheitliches Patentgericht sieht in Art. 35 ein Mediations- und Schiedszentrum für Patentsachen vor. Dessen Zuständigkeit soll sich jedoch nicht auf die Nichtigerklärung oder Einschränkung eines Patents erstrecken. Der vorliegende Beitrag erörtert die Tragweite dieser Regelung, indem zunächst der Schieds¬fähigkeit von Bestandsfragen in Deutschland und der Schweiz nachgegangen wird. Im Anschluss werden die gewonnenen Erkenntnisse für die Auslegung der Zuständigkeitsreichweite des Mediations- und Schiedszentrums fruchtbar gemacht.
English Abstract: The EU Unitary Patent package faces delays due to the „Brexit“ and a pending constitutional complaint before the German Constitutional Court. Nonetheless, once the package enters into force, it will have an immense impact on the patent system in Europe. Inter alia, the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court — a core element of the Unitary Patent Package — establishes a patent mediation and arbitration centre. However, according to the agreement the centre may not revoke or limit a patent in mediation or arbitration proceedings.
The present paper tries to shed light on the appropriate interpretation of this provision by first taking a look at the question of arbitrability of patent validity issues in Germany and Switzerland. Traditionally, German law has taken a restrictive stance on the arbitrability of patent validity. In recent times, however, a number of scholars have started to opt for arbitrability, with their views ranging from inter partes effect to erga omnes effect regarding the impact of the arbitral award. The middle ground favored by many is a mechanism that can be described as “indirect” erga omnes effect, whereby the arbitral tribunal requires the patent owner to declare the withdrawal or restriction of his patent, resulting eventually in an erga omnes effect. Switzerland — not a member of the Unitary Patent package but an important arbitration venue — is one of the more liberal arbitral jurisdictions on these issues. The prevailing view and practice accepts arbitrability of patent validity issues, granting (at least) indirect erga omnes effect.
Based on these insights the paper addresses the centre’s competence (1) to decide with effect inter partes or — directly or indirectly — erga omnes; (2) to rule on the validity of Unitary/European Patents and/or other patents; and (3) to handle patent law matters only or “adjacent” areas (e.g. licensing contracts) as well. Due to the clear wording of Art. 35 para. 2 UPC, the competence of the centre does not extend to patent invalidity actions with erga omnes effect. However, provision 11.2 of the draft Rules of Procedure states that the Court can confirm, upon request by the parties, “the terms of any settlement or arbitral award by consent (…), including a term which obliges the patent owner to limit, surrender or agree to the revocation of a patent or not to assert it against the other party and/or third parties”. Even though the term “arbitral award by consent” leaves room for interpretation, the rule indicates the competence of the centre to decide on validity actions with “indirect” erga omnes effect. A fortiori, this allows for inter partes awards. The article further discusses the possible implications of awards on third parties. Last but not least, several arguments support the centre’s competence to address not only disputes lying entirely within the jurisdiction of the Unified Patent Court but also adjacent matters in case they are sufficiently related to the scope of the Unitary Patent Package.
Note: Downloadable document is available in German.
Keywords: unitary patent, European patent with unitary effect, EPUE, UPC, Unified Patent Court, mediation and arbitration centre, rules of procedure, enhanced cooperation, Germany, Switzerland, arbitration, arbitrability, patent nullity, patent, erga omnes, inter partes
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