Inside Look at the Unified Patent Court: Our Personal Journey and Insights

A first look at the Unified Patent Court (UPC)


As industries expand and economies become more interlinked, the significance of safeguarding patents across European borders grows increasingly vital. In response, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) emerges as a key judicial institution dedicated to the standardization and centralization of European patent cases, providing a streamlined and authoritative venue for resolving patent-related disputes. The UPC’s establishment marks a strategic advance toward unifying Europe’s approach to intellectual property law, with an aim to provide clear, consistent legal rulings that support inventors and businesses alike.

In this exploration of the UPC, readers will gain insights into how the local chamber in Munich is structured, how it operates, and what it means for patent law within the European Union. This post addresses the essential information that stakeholders—including innovators, legal practitioners, and corporations—require to understand the opportunities and implications presented by the UPC’s framework.

Our discussion on the Unified Patent Court’s promises to demystify its mechanisms and demonstrate its commitment to legal uniformity, making this topic accessible to professionals across various sectors. Stay with us as we delve into the operations and ramifications of this formative institution, shedding light on its potential to drive forward the protection and enforcement of intellectual property within Europe’s innovation landscape.


What is UPC?


The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is a court system established by 17 Member States of the European Patent Convention to rule specifically on matters pertaining to the infringement and validity of the Unitary Patents and classical European Patents. This court system emerged into existence on 1 June 2023 by virtue of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPCA). The UPCA stands as the founding document and operational guide of the UPC. Participating member states are signatories to this agreement.

The UPC represents a single, common court to the member states, with various divisions located in major European cities such as Luxembourg, Paris, Munich, Vienna, Brussels, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Mannheim, Milan, Lisbon, Stockholm, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and The Hague.


Accessibility and Functionality


The UPC allows actions to be filed through the Court’s Case Management System. Via this system, representatives can also register to operate before the UPC. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding the new patent protection system in Europe that UPC represents, or how the UPC works, these inquiries can be answered on the court’s FAQ page.

In fact, the UPC frequently updates the patent community with information on new CMS functionality, allowing for easier access to case documents, correction of representative’s data and the opportunity for counsel to form their own legal teams.

In addition to the regular operations, the UPC releases important news updates on their schedule. This includes announcements about public hearings at the Court of Appeal in Luxembourg, opening hours during holiday periods, job opportunities and more.


Inside the UPC: Insights from the Ground


If we deep dive into the operations of the UPC, we can gain deep insights on the courtroom procedure at the example of the local chamber in Munich. One of the UPC courts in Munich is located in Denisstraße 3, in the same building as the Landgericht 2. The following image shows the view from outside.

It’s noteworthy the UPC in the Landgericht München 2 has quite novel interior. The UPC resides on the second floor of this building. One can witness a neat row of a Judge Bench, two monitors for video conferences and two cameras for the same, all contributing to an efficient and productive hearing room for UPC proceedings.

The following image shows a view of the court room from the inside with its video conferencing displays, cameras and microphones. The cameras and microphones are also used for the official protocol.

The court proceedings at UPC are strict about the protocols. The protocols are recorded, and each speaker is expected to turn on the microphone and state their name before speaking. Additionally, the court allows hybrid hearings, potentially even with remotely connected judges.

In contrast to German court hearing, where the Presiding Judge usually conveys a preliminary opinion of the court at the beginning of the hearing, at the UPC, the Presiding Judge objectively summarizes the case status, the dispute patent details and the intended proceeding flow as well as the key points of discussions. Interestingly, during the hearing, according to our first-hand experience, the judges abstain from expressing their own opinions and aim to put forward questions in an objective manner.

The courtrooms are equipped for diverse linguistic experiences, with judges possessing good German skills and potentially proficiency in other languages under the UPC jurisdictions. This enhances the court’s functionality considering the diverse language profiles of the patents it will handle.

Lastly, in contrast to traditional court norms, the judges of UPC did not provide any hint on the upcoming decision or ruling at the end of the hearing based on our experience.


Wrapping Up


In essence, the Unified Patent Court represents a monumental effort in fostering unity, uniformity and effectiveness in patent matters across Europe. Its creation enhances the protection and enforcement of patent rights across multiple jurisdictions, among participating member states. The court, by encompassing a broad linguistic and legal ductility, accommodates the rich diversity of the unique European landscape it serves.

Stay connected with us to learn more about the UPC and other milestones in the European patent landscape. We are eager to uncover more about the UPC and ensure you stay updated and informed. Whether you are an inventor, an entrepreneur, a patent holder, or merely an enthusiast in this field, watch this space. There is always something to learn about the UPC.

Our authors:

Ziduan Fang

Patent Attorney

Dr. Mark Standke

Trainee Patent Attorney