Providing further confirmation that the Unified Patent Court is working hard to be in place to start full operation on 1 April 2023, the list of judicial appointments was published on 19 October 2022. It is exciting to see that the appointments represent a “Who’s Who” of leading patents judges from the UPC-participating states. Klaus Grabinski (appointed to the Bundesgerichtshof in Germany in 2009) will be the first President of the Court of Appeal and Florence Butin (previously a presiding judge at the Tribunal Judiciaire de Paris and subsequently at the Paris Court of Appeal) will be the first President of the Court of First Instance.
Overall, 85 judicial appointments have been made, 34 legally qualified judges and 51 technically qualified judges. Many of these appointments will be part-time – presumably the number of full-time judges will increase as the UPC’s caseload increases. From a diversity perspective it is good to see that a significant proportion of the judges are female; indeed female judges form the majority of the Court of Appeal appointments.
Knowing that the UPC’s judges have, in the main, significant experience of patent disputes should help proprietors of European patents decide whether they should opt those patents out of the jurisdiction of the UPC under the transitional provisions. The sunrise period, when it will become possible to file opt-out applications, is expected to start at the beginning of 2023.