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20 November 2014Europe

CIPA 2014: UPC will take ten years to prosper, says GSK lawyer

A lawyer from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has said the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will take ten years to overcome teething problems.

Speaking in a personal capacity, David Rosenberg, vice president of IP policy at the pharmaceutical company, was addressing the audience at the CIPA Life Sciences Conference 2014, at The Belfry hotel near Birmingham, UK.

In a session on the unitary patent and UPC today, (November 20), he asked the audience whether they thought the proposed system was good, but following a low key response he said “about three of you think so”.

After reeling off some of the official economic reasons for introducing the new system, such as stimulating European competitiveness, he admitted being “slightly cynical” about it.

One of the factors affecting whether to select a unitary patent concerns obtaining supplementary protection certificates, he said, but “nobody knows” who would grant them.

The European Patent Office can’t because there is no route of appeal from it to the Court of Justice of the European Union, he said.

Court fees and costs also seemed to cause Rosenberg concern. He said there was no guidance on them and that litigating in the UPC may be more expensive than in any one member state.

In a case that GSK lost in Germany recently, he noted, court costs topped $2 million.

There is also very little guidance on when interim injunctions will be granted, an area of “huge importance to our sector”, he said, or when cases will be bifurcated.

“I think the court will be good in ten years’ time, but it will have teething problems [until then],” he predicted.

The UPC is expected to be implemented in 2016.

Referring again to some of the proposed benefits of the system, he told the audience: “I will leave it to your judgement.”

The conference finishes on November 21.

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