The Unitary Patent Court or UPC is part of the unitary patent package which includes two EU, regulations an international agreement and an agreement on a Unified Patent Court. UPC is a common court for all the participating member states and would therefore be a part of their legal system. The UPC shall deal with both unitary as well as European patents and its rulings shall uniformly apply in member states that have ratified the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court However, the UPC shall not have any jurisdiction with respect to national patents or supplementary protection certificates granted for a national patent.
As per UPC Agreement, the UPC shall decide on the validity and infringement of the unitary and ‘classic’ European patents . As of now, the national courts decide on the validity and infringement of European patents which makes enforcement of the patent in multiple jurisdictions, a costly activity. The UPC seek to reduce the high cost and administrative complexity associated with litigation in multiple jurisdictions It will provide for a centralized forum for enforcing as well as challenging European patents, leading to a harmonization of case laws with respect to the infringement and validity of a patent.
The UPC would have a Court of First Instance (UPC-CFI), a Court of Appeal and a Registry which would be set up at the seat of Court of Appeal . The UPC-CFI would be a single court with multiple divisions. The panels would have individuals belonging to different nations and would operate under the same Rules of Procedure. The decisions of the Court of First Instance can be appealed in the UPC Court of Appeal. The UPC-CFI would have a central division as well as local and regional divisions. The central division would be located in Paris and having sections in London and Munich which shall be dealing with cases of specific patent classifications.
Cases pertaining to infringement, provisional, protective measures and injunctions,damages or compensation derived from provisional protection and/or prior use can be brought before the local/regional division where the infringement has taken place or a residence or place of business of the infringer is present. If the infringement has occurred in territories of multiple local/regional then the patentee may choose any of the divisions pertaining to where infringement has occurred. If any contracting member state has no local/regional division, the case can be brought directly to the central division. Actions with respect to revocation and non-infringement can be brought directly to the central division unless there has already been an infringement action between the same parties over the same patent. In which case the action can only be brought before the same local/regional division. Actions pertaining to the decisions of EPO when carrying out administrative activities for UPP Unitary Patent Protection) such as requests for unitary effect, collection and administration of renewal fees need to be always brought before the central division.
The seat for the central division shall in Luxembourg with the Registry being setup there as well. The panels of the Court of Appeal would be composed of multinationals and would operate under Rules of Procedure of UPC. The language of proceedings in UPC-CFI has to be the official language or one of the official languages for contracting member country hosting the local division or the official language specified by the contracting member states sharing the regional division In the central division, the language of proceedings shall be the same one in which the patent has been granted. However, provisions are available wherein the contracting member state can designate one or more official languages Of EPO along with or instead of official language of the member state as the language for proceedings in local/regional divisions. The language for proceedings in the Court of First Instance would also be the language of proceedings in Court of Appeal.
As UPC is a court common to all the contracting member states, it would refer to the European Court of Justice in case of requests for preliminary rulings with respect to interpretation and application of EU law.
A provision for transition period of 7 years has been provided for in the UPC Agreement This arrangement is only with respect to classic European patents, during this period actions pertaining to infringement or revocation of a patent can be brought to the national courts if it has been brought before the UPC.
UPC is being established by the Preparatory Committee which would remain operational up to two years after UPC beings functioning. For the UPC Agreement to come into force it has to be ratified by 13 member states which must include France Germany and UK. As of now, Germany has not yet ratified the UPC Agreement so the operational date for UPC is unclear as yet.
We are closely following the implementation of the same. As soon as the same is implemented we shall be able to assist with all the support that is required for such litigation in the said courts.