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International news roundup: Global firms launch COVID-19 hubs; Is Europe’s patent court possible?

More global firms offering online COVID-19 resources; Germany’s patent court ratification is void

International news roundup: Global firms launch COVID-19 hubs; Is Europe’s patent court possible?

Global firms step up online resources amid COVID-19
Global law firms are leveraging their capabilities to provide online resources to address clients’ concerns about COVID-19.

Hogan Lovells and Mayer Brown are among the latest firms launch hubs focused on the legal and business issues created by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 hub from Hogan Lovells includes tools to help in-house legal teams assess their crisis preparedness and risks to their supply chains.

It says that current issues of concern include the impact on contracts, M&A and joint ventures; employee health and safety and employment; and insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, Mayer Brown has launched its COVID-19 support platform, pooling resources and expertise from across its practice areas.

“Mayer Brown’s prioritized focus is on helping our clients manage the emerging and challenging issues every global community is facing,” said managing partner Jeremy Clay. “To assist our clients, we have launched a web portal, blog and travel tool, which together help clients stay ahead of the curve during this complex time.”

Last week, Cooley launched its client-facing resource hub addressing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. It has also convened a COVID-19 Task Force comprising more than 70 lawyers who will contribute guidance to the hub.

Can Europe’s patent court still go ahead without key players?
The plan for a Unified Patent Court in Europe has suffered two major blows in the past few weeks.

First, the UK government said that it was not seeking involvement in the court following its exit from the EU. That was perhaps to be expected.

But last week, the German Federal Constitutional Court published a ruling that the country’s ratification was void because the Bundestag vote only included 35 members instead of the required two-thirds of the 700+ members.

With the other 12 proposed members of the patents court having ratified its creation, the German approval was crucial.

However, it is now not clear when – or if – another vote would take place.

There is additional doubt as the unconstitutional vote was not the only element of a complaint by constitutional lawyer Dr.  Dr. Ingve Stjern. The other elements were not considered by the constitutional court as it had already ruled on the vote.

If the Unified Patent Court is created, it will remove the need for patents cases to be heard in each of the proposed 13 member states’ courts.

Winfried Tilmann, Of Counsel at Hogan Lovells, commented on the future of the UPC: "I believe that both the relevant policy makers and the European industry continue to be interested in an effective unified patent system in Europe. The idea of a unified European law with a single court will continue to be viable and even point the way forward for other areas of law".

Meanwhile, the Law Society of England & Wales says that the UK has a window of opportunity to invest in the right infrastructure to ensure that the UK remains “a highly favoured jurisdiction for the resolution of patent disputes.”

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