We reported in the October 2015 Yellow Sheet about the introduction of the European Patent Litigation Certificate, a qualification which will allow European patent attorneys (EPAs) to be entered on the list of entitled representatives authorised to represent before the UPC. As we reported then, the draft rules on the EPLC include some transitional provisions which will allow certain people to “grandfather” onto the list.
IPReg and CIPA have recently published a guidance note, to help UK attorneys work out whether their existing qualifications will allow them to grandfather onto the list. The full guidance note can be found here.
Trainees might be particularly interested in the final paragraphs of the guidance note, which read as follows:
“If you are not yet an EPA, you should aim to become one before the end of the transitional period if possible.
If you are a trainee who is likely to become an EPA before the end of the transitional period, you can qualify to go on the list within the transitional period if, within that period, you either
- take the Queen Mary Certificate Course, or
- take the one year Nottingham Law School course “Intellectual Property Litigation and Advocacy” (or any of other specified courses), or
- qualify as a UK patent attorney and complete a Basic Skills Course, or as a UK trade mark attorney.
If you wish to go on to the list and these transitional arrangements do not apply to you, then you may qualify at any time by becoming an EPA, and either
- obtaining a law degree or equivalent; or
- (in future) passing an EPLC Course and obtaining a Certificate.”
The guidance note points out that the transitional period has not yet started to run. However, it is only a one-year transitional period, so the window for completing the actions mentioned above could be short if the transitional period begins soon. There may also be a shortage of spaces on basic litigation skills courses, so you might want to consider booking your course early if you would like to benefit from the EPLC transitional provisions (or indeed if it has been nearly 3 years since you were added to the UK register of patent attorneys!).
As yet, there is no “EPLC course”, so it remains to be seen how onerous it will be for EPAs to join the list of UPC representatives in the future. However, as pointed out in the guidance note, the EPLC course “will involve students in a minimum of 120 study hours, and written and oral examinations” – on the face of it, a considerable extra burden.