Projet UNIFIED "From local diversity to transnational institutionalization: The emergence of the European Unified Patent Court"

L’Agence nationale de la recherche et la Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ont retenu le projet "From local diversity to transnational institutionalization: The emergence of the European Unified Patent Court" dans le cadre d’un appel à projets franco-allemand (FRALL) en sciences humaines et sociales. Il est dirigé par Emmanuel Lazega et mené par Kamar Khuchua, post-doctorante et en partenariat avec l'Université d’Heidelberg (Institut de Géographie). 

Le projet débute le 1er avril 2020 jusqu’au 31 mars 2023 et dure 36 mois. 


Although the European patent was established in 1973 to protect intellectual property across the European Union, to date there is still no unitary jurisdiction to litigate and enforce IP rights at the European level. UNIFIED focuses on the current process of institutional convergence between nationally fragmented IP regimes and the emergence of a genuine transnational institution, the public/private Unified Patent Court. Given recent evidence of the differences in IP litigation outcomes between the EU member states, this project compares the two leading continental European IP regimes to answer two research questions: How do judicial beliefs in and interpretations of legal norms vary across the regional and national jurisdictions of France and Germany; and how do these beliefs and interpretations eventually converge to manifest a unitary jurisdiction? UNIFIED pioneers a neo-structural theory of institutionalization that integrates institutional and network approaches to account for the relational mechanisms that harmonize and enforce judicial beliefs, interpretations and practices. As part of a mixed-methods research design, a panel of two waves of qualitative interviews with patent judges draws the ‘colors’ of the variegated judicial beliefs and interpretations in France and Germany; while a set of formal network surveys at professional ‘convergence events’ discerns the relational mechanisms that produce a ‘change in these colors’. UNIFIED is in a unique historical position to study the emergence of the Unified Patent Court as an in-vivo case of convergence from a geographically fragmented variety in judicial institutions. It will collect original primary data, both substantive and relational, on a powerful judicial field in Europe, and it will contribute to a better understanding of how transnational institutions emerge, in the process, from the origin of interregional and international judicial diversity. Creating a legitimate and effective unitary IP regime is meant to be a major advance for the European industry to propel and protect future technological innovativeness.

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