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Structure of the Unified Patent Court

The UPC will comprise a Court of First Instance and a Court of Appeal, with the Court of First Instance being organised into Local and Regional Divisions, as well as a Central Division.

The Court Structure

The court structure

Locations of the Unified Patent Court and competences of the divisions

The Agreement on a Unified Patent Court provides for three seats of the Central Division. Following the Brexit decision and the UK’s withdrawal from the UPC, those seats are in Paris, Munich and Milan.

  • Pariswill handle cases relating to physics, electricity, transportation, textiles and paper, fixed constructions, performing operations patents and all supplementary protection certificates (SPCs);
  • Munichwill deal with patents on chemistry and metallurgy (not including SPCs) and mechanical engineering, lighting, heating, blasting and weapons;
  • The Central Division in Milan will cover patents relating to human necessities (not including SPCs).

The Court of Appeal is based in Luxembourg.

Local divisions are established in Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), Denmark (Copenhagen), Finland (Helsinki), France (Paris), Germany (Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim, Munich), Italy (Milan), the Netherlands (the Hague), Portugal (Lisbon) and Slovenia (Ljubliana). Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have established a Regional Division (Nordic-Baltic division with seats in Riga, Stockholm, Tallinn and Vilnius). Bulgaria and Malta have not established a seat of the court, so infringement actions would have to be brought in the Central Division.

Composition of the benches

Cases will generally be heard by a panel of three to five judges, comprising a mixture of legally-qualified and, in some circumstances, technical judges from different Member States. Each panel will be chaired by a legally qualified judge.

Courts of First Instance (Art. 8 UPCA):

  • The panels of a Regional or Local Divisionshall sit with three legally qualified judges; in certain scenarios, a technically qualified judge may be added upon request or in case of an invalidity counter claim.
  • While a panel of three judges will hear the cases in front of the Central Division. The bench will consist of two legally and one technically qualified judge with qualifications and experience in the field of technology concerned.

Appeal Instance (Art. 9 UPCA):

The bench of the Court of Appeal will be composed of five judges, namely three legally qualified judges from different Member States and two technically qualified judges with qualifications and experience in the field of technology.

The European Unified Patent System