What is the Unified Patent Court (UPC)?
The Unified Patent Court, or UPC for short, is a new court with its own rules of procedure, which have elements of both continental European and Anglo-Saxon legal traditions. It has jurisdiction over disputes concerning unitary patents and existing and newly granted European patents.
The owner of a European patent can exclude the exclusive jurisdiction of the UPC for a transitional period of seven years by a so-called “opt-out declaration”.
The decisions of the UPC are effective for all participating (unitary patent) or designated (EP patent) EU member states. At the UPC, the same panel can decide on both the infringement and the validity of a patent.
Depending on the individual case, infringement and validity can also be decided in separate proceedings (so-called bifurcation). The case files are available online and thus freely accessible to the public. Upon request, the UPC decides whether individual documents are to be treated confidentially.
The UPC comprises a court of first instance and a court of appeal.
The nationalities of the judges on all panels are mixed. Thus, the German local chambers will each consist of two German and one foreign judge.
At the request of the parties or if an action for annulment is to be heard, the chambers can be supplemented by a technically qualified judge.
The Court of First Instance consists of a central chamber with seats in Paris and Munich and local chambers (and, if necessary, regional chambers) in the member states. In Germany, there will be four local chambers, namely in Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Munich and Hamburg, which are already internationally known for patent disputes; Germany is thus – in accordance with its already established outstanding role in patent law – by far the country with the largest capacities for UPC proceedings. Proceedings before the German local chambers 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 envisaged that the UPC can appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union ECJ for the interpretation of EU law.
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