Monday, February 13, 2023

Mannheim Regional Court now has *three* panels to which patent infringement cases can be assigned

One of the world's most popular venues among patentees seeking injunctions against infringers, the Landgericht Mannheim (Mannheim Regional Court), is already a rocket docket: judgments often come down within less than a year of the filing of a complaint. It has recently been the fastest one of the major German fora, though Dusseldorf has accelerated its proceedings and is not a distant second.

Given that Mannheim has no "backlog" problem and that some cases that would have been filed with the Mannheim Regional Court in years past are soon going to be brought in the Unified Patent Court (UPC), it's somewhat surprising that the regional court is upgrading its capacity for patent cases now.

The current version (PDF) of the document listing the types of claims that are assigned to the Mannheim court's various divisions entered into effect six weeks ago. In addition to the 2nd Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Dr. Holger Kircher) and the 7th Civil Chamber (Presiding Judge: Thomas Schmidt), the 14th Civil Chamber--whose new presiding judge is yet to be appointed--will hear patent cases.

There is an overlap between the 2nd Civil Chamber and the 14th: Judge Dr. Kircher's deputy, Judge Dirk Boettcher ("Böttcher" in German), is simultaneously also a member of the 14th Civil Chamber. Judge Boettcher previously served as a side judge on the Mannheim court, and temporarily on the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court's 6th Civil Senate (Presiding Judge: Andreas Voss ("Voß" in German)) as this Juve Patent article on the appeal of a Nokia injunction against Daimler indicates.

While the Mannheim court's traditional two patent litigation divisions primarily adjudicate patent cases, they are not listed as the 14th Civil Chamber's number one priority. Primarily, that panel hears competition cases, such as a major antitrust damages case (known in the German antitrust community as "the sugar cartel case") that will be decided in April. According to the court's internal rules, one-sixth of the patent caseload will be assigned to the 14th Civil Chamber.

In other news involving German patent judges, I have heard from reliable sources that Judges Dr. Matthias Zigann and Tobias Pichlmaier of the Unified Patent Court's Munich Local Division would like to offer English as an alternative language of proceedings.