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UPC Administrative Committee holds inaugural meeting

Out-Law News | 25 Feb 2022 | 10:45 am | 2 min. read

Important preparatory steps that will enable the new Unified Patent Court (UPC) system to become operational were taken at an inaugural meeting of a committee responsible for the court’s administrative affairs earlier this week.

In a statement, the UPC Administrative Committee said: “Besides adopting the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, hence setting its legal framework, the Administrative Committee also adopted important instruments of the Court’s secondary legislation, such as the Rules on the European Patent Litigation Certificate and other appropriate qualifications, the Court’s Service and Staff Regulations, as well as its Financial Regulations.”

“The Committee also appointed the members of the Advisory Committee, who will have the central task of interviewing candidate judges for the Court. The interviewing process is expected to start at the end of the month of March 2022, in order to allow the Administrative Committee to appoint, later this year, the judges to form panels at the different divisions of the Court,” it said.

Amsterdam-based expert in patent litigation András Kupecz of Pinsent Masons said: “This is yet another important step towards setting up the new court as this will pave the way for the judicial recruitment stage which everyone agrees is going to be paramount for the success of the system.”

Paris-based Emmanuel Gougé, also of Pinsent Masons, said: “One the main tasks for the Administrative Committee will also be to adopt the Rules of Procedure of the UPC, which will govern how litigation is conducted before the UPC. It has been considered that those rules must be compatible with EU law.”

Final preparations to establish the UPC had been expected to be ramped up after the Protocol to the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application (PAP-Protocol) entered into force last month. The PAP-Protocol is, along with the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the UPC and the UPC Agreement (UPCA), one of three treaties that underpin the new UPC system. It provides for the final preparatory steps for the UPC to take place, such as the appointment of judges, testing of the IT systems, and setting of the budget.

The UPC is being set up to provide a dedicated judicial system for litigating new unitary patents. Existing European patents that are not specifically opted-out of the UPC’s jurisdiction will also be subject to the new court system.

The UPC system envisages a system of central, regional and local divisional courts, with a UPC Court of Appeal in Luxembourg and the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) the final arbiter on points of EU law in respect of disputes over unitary patents or non-opted out European patents.

Last year, Gerrard Barrett, the head of the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland, told a Pinsent Masons event that the committee tasked with making UPC preparations had decided to split the workload anticipated to be undertaken by the London court between the other central division courts in Paris and Munich in the short term. The Paris court is to specialise in technology patent disputes and the Munich court disputes over patents relating to mechanical engineering. This approach has been taken to ensure that the determination of the location of the seat does not delay the start of the UPC system, Barrett said.

According to the UPC Administrative Committee, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and Portugal have all confirmed their intention to set up local or regional divisions of the UPC. There are to be four local divisions in Germany, and a regional Nordic-Baltic division of the court based in Sweden, it said.

The UPC system will have legal effect on the first day of the fourth month after Germany’s ratification of the UPCA.