The final version of the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court (also available in French and German) came into force on 1 September 2022. One of the most significant changes from earlier drafts was to opt-out procedures, as well as changes to restrict access to pleadings where previous drafts had been provided that they would be available to the public along with the new court's decisions and orders. The RoP have also been approved by the European Commission.
The main changes/additions incorporated into the final version of the RoP involve:
- Opt-out and unauthorised opt-out/withdrawal (Rules 5 and 5A)
- Access to pleadings (and decisions and orders) and redaction of these for GDPR and confidentiality reasons (Rule 262)
- Redaction of information as between parties – including confidentiality clubs (Rule 262A)
- Remote hearings/video conferencing for whole hearings/individuals (Rule 112)
- Signing of lodged documents and electronic submissions generally (Rule 4)
- Various amendments to allow notification of the defendant in ex parte applications
- Cooperation with other EU courts and third state courts re taking of evidence
- Judicial impartiality (see also subsequent Code of Conduct of Judges of the Unified Patent Court published by the Administrative Committee 24 April 2023)
- Decisions by default
- The non-suspensory effect of certain categories of appeal
We deal with each of the above in more detail in our blog post here.
Most of these changes have been made to bring the procedure up to date, allowing for the more on-line nature of court interactions post-pandemic, or where the opportunity to consider the rules in a more practical context has arisen and gaps have become apparent.
For details of Court Fees see the Court Fees section of this UPC and UP hub.
For more on the UPC and unitary patent see our series of feature articles published in PLC Magazine's March and April editions 2022 and shared in pdf form on our IP blog here and the rest of this hub.