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UPC Structure – local, regional and central divisions

20 January 2022 | Europe
Legal Briefings


The UPC will have a Court of First Instance (divided into local, regional and central divisions) and a Court of Appeal (Luxembourg). Cases will commence in any one of these divisions according to the subject matter and the prescribed division set out in the UPC Agreement and the UPC Rules.

The main seat of the central division will be Paris with further seats in Munich and one other participating member state (previously this was London until its recent withdrawal from the UPC system). The work of the central division will be divided according to the subject matter of the patent in dispute based on IPC classifications:

  • the seat previously assigned to London (but now possibly to be located in Milan) will deal with patents falling into International Patent Classification of WIPO sections (A) Human necessities (including pharmaceuticals but also foodstuffs, tobacco, clothes, furniture, footwear, some agriculture applications and sports and amusements and more) and (C) Chemistry (which includes genetic engineering) and Metallurgy.
  • Munich will hear cases involving patents in IPC class F, concerning mechanical engineering.
  • All other patent classifications will fall to be heard before the Paris central division, and Paris will take the content that would have gone to the London seat in the interim, until the third seat is confirmed.

Latest on Local and Regional divisions

  • Single local divisions are expected in Austria, Belgium, Demark, France, Italy, Ireland and The Netherlands
  • 4 local divisions are planned in Germany (Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Munich and Hamburg)
  • Portugal – unconfirmed but has states it would prefer to participate in regional divisions to share costs
  • Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovenia are planning a regional division
  • Malta and Luxembourg - plan to go direct to the central division for any patent infringement actions
  • Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will have a Nordic-Baltic regional division of the Unified Patent Court which would be located in Stockholm and the language of the proceedings would be English

It is thought that Finland is likely to set up its own local division allowing Finnish as a designated language alongside English.

Denmark plans to use Danish and English as languages of the proceedings in its local division. The Belgian local division will operate in Dutch, English, French and German.

Mediation, arbitration and training: a patent mediation and arbitration centre with seats in Ljubljana and Lisbon has been established.

A training facility for judges has also been established in Budapest.

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.



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