Düsseldorf has announced to invest big time in additional judicial capacity for its patent divisions, both at the District Court (Landgericht) and at the Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht), in its quest to become the world’s patent court – “Weltpatentgericht” is the word used in the ministry’s press release.
“Big time” translates, if you read the small print, into appointing three additional judges to the existing eight – that represents an increase of 37.5% and will enable the District Court to etsablish a third panel (Kammer) in addition to the existing two. Further brain power is to be added on the appeals level as well, but numbers are still to be confirmed. Düsseldorf indeed appears to be well positioned in the international competition amongst courts for patent litigation – it claims to be handling some 600 current matters, more patent litigation than any other court in Europe.
Therefore, I had always felt that the Düsseldorf courts would have been natural candiates for the “English language in German courts” experiment, more so than Cologne. On the other hand, those sceptical of the English language initiative and the related draft legislation would argue that the Düsseldorf patent divisions show it is perfectly possible to have a sizable market share internationally without giving up on the native language. They would point to speed, quality of judges and cost efficiency as the main drivers.
The Düsseldorf initiative has, in addition to the international aspects, also a domestic dimension. Düsseldorf competes with the Mannheim and München courts for its role within a European Unified Patent Court framework.