Currently, national courts and authorities of the contracting states of the European Patent Convention are competent to decide on the infringement and validity of European patents. In practice, this gives rise to a number of difficulties when a patent proprietor wishes to enforce a European patent – or when a third party seeks the revocation of a European patent – in several countries: high costs, risk of diverging decisions and lack of legal certainty. Forum shopping is also inevitable as parties seek to take advantage of differences in national courts’ interpretation of harmonised European patent law and in procedural laws, as well as differences in speed (between “slow” and “quick” courts) and in the level of damages awarded.
The Agreement on the Unified Patent Court addresses the above problems by creating a specialised patent court (“Unified Patent Court”, or UPC) with exclusive jurisdiction for litigation relating to European patents and European patents with unitary effect (unitary patents).
The UPC will comprise a Court of First Instance, a Court of Appeal and a Registry. The Court of First Instance will be composed of a central division (with seat in Paris and two sections in London and Munich) and by several local and regional divisions in the Contracting Member States to the Agreement. The Court of Appeal will be located in Luxembourg.
The Agreement was signed by 25 EU Member States on 19 February 2013. It will need to be ratified by at least 13 states, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom to enter into force.
Latest Updates – September 2015
- UK ratification of UPC Agreement won’t happen in 2015, IPO confirmsThe Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement will not be ratified in the UK this year, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has confirmed.29 Jun 2015
In a statement sent to Out-Law.com, the IPO ruled out ratification of the Agreement this year but said that it intends to complete the “domestic preparations” for ratification ahead of the UK referendum on whether the country should remain in the EU, which is scheduled for some time in 2017.
- The 10th meeting of the Preparatory Committee was held at the Hungarian Permanent Representation to the European Union at the 10th of July. At the meeting the 18th draft of the Rules of Procedure were presented by Johannes Karcher, coordinator of the Legal Framework working group, and Kevin Mooney, Chair of the Drafting Committee. The draft was very well received by the Committee and even if there is one or two items still to settle it was concluded that the Committee expect to agree on a final set of Rules at its meeting in October.