Unified Patent Court (UPC)

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) – structure, staffing and instances

The UPC is a new court, with its own rules of procedure, which include elements of both the continental European and the Anglo-Saxon legal traditions. It has jurisdiction for litigation concerning Unitary Patents, and also for existing and newly granted European Patents. 

The proprietor of a European Patent can rule out the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC for a transitional period of seven years by means of an opt-out declaration”.

The decisions of the UPC are handed down with effect for all the participating (Unitary Patent) or designated (European Patent) EU member states. At the UPC, the same tribunal can decide both on the infringement and on the validity of a patent. Depending on the individual case, infringement and validity may, however, also be decided in separate cases (known as bifurcation). 

The trial files are available online and are hence freely accessible to the public. The UPC will decide, on application, whether individual documents should be treated as confidential.

The UPC comprises a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal.

The nationalities of the judges of all the tribunals are mixed. This means that the German local divisions each consist of two German and one foreign judge. Upon request by the parties or if an invalidity suit is to be heard, the divisions may be supplemented by a technically qualified judge.

  • The Court of First Instance consists of a central division with its seat in Paris and Munich, and local divisions (and possibly regional divisions) in the member states. 
  • In Germany, there will be four local divisions, which will be situated at the locations in Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Munich and Hamburg, which are already well-known internationally for patent litigation; Germany is thus – as befits its well-established outstanding role in patent law – the country with by far the greatest capacity for UPC cases.
  • Proceedings before the German local divisions can be conducted in German or – with the consent of the court – in the language of the patent in suit.
  • The Court of Appeal will have its seat in Luxembourg. 
  • It is provided that the UPC may request the Court of Justice of the European Union, CJEU, to give a ruling on the interpretation of EU law.
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